Week 15 of Odd Prompts

It’s week fifteen, a nice round number that isn’t, and we’re progressing our merry, wandering way through the year. What will your creative inspiration be this week? You never know what you’ll get with the More Odds Than Ends crew week to week. Will it be a strange gift of a cucumber bouquet? How about a spaceship filled with glowing, sentient plasma? Two lovers about to miss their moment? Or a clock that yawns and demands coffee?

Whatever your inspiration, we’d love to see it. And if you wish to provide inspiration and receive some in return, just send a prompt to oddprompts@gmail.com. It’s that easy!

PrompterPromptPromptee
Leigh KimmelAfter the Poison Summer has gone.Becky Jones
Fiona Grey“Why do the legends call it the singing road?”nother Mike
nother MikeWhen they opened the groceries, there was a message inside the bag.AC Young
AC YoungThe epitaph on his tombstone read simply “He Served”.Cedar Sanderson
Becky Jones“There’s a starman waiting in the sky, he’d like to come and meet us, but he thinks he’d blow our minds.” (David Bowie)Leigh Kimmel
Cedar SandersonThe endless road calls to the traveler, but once they set foot on it, there is no turning back again.Fiona Grey

Testing the waters? Just need some ideas? Grab a spare. They’re free for all. Or possibly a free-for-all. They haven’t decided yet.

SpareThe tree was an odd mix between palm and pine
SpareA giant gnome guarded the river
SpareThe troll pushed his way into the crowded bar and sat down. The waitress grimaced, then walked over and said, “…
SpareA bloody knife arrived today in an overnight package.
SpareThe crow sat on the edge of the roof, and cawed its opinion.

Done with your creative outlet? Wrung out from the muse’s incessant demands? Want some feedback on your work? See what magic happens in the comments section as the week wraps up, and don’t forget to send in your prompts for next week!

Header image by Fiona Grey, weird prehistoric rocks.

13 comments

  1. This week I had another prompt from nother Mike: When they opened the groceries, there was a message inside the bag.

    A message could be purely physical or magical; it could be something left in the bag by accident or something deliberately included. I went with a deliberate magical message. That led to a magical kingdom…

    The doorbell rang. Amanda looked up from her textbooks where she was studying ‘Intermediate Pyromagics’ for her Diploma of Intermediate Magic. “Will you get the door please?”

    In the other bedroom was her housemate, Alice. She’d passed her DIM last year, and was now studying for her Pre-Apprenticeship Levelling Examination, which would hopefully qualify her for an apprenticeship – going beyond the PALE as it was irreverently termed. So she understood why Amanda didn’t want to leave her studies. Alice went down to see who was at the door.

    Alice herself wasn’t a pyromagiac like Amanda, her skills were mainly with air and water. Naturally she loved precipitation, and was never happier than when she had the time to sit at a window and look out at rain or hail or snow falling from the sky.

    Alice swiftly ran down the stairs and opened the door. It was the supermarket delivery man. He placed the bags on the step two by two, and then left to deliver his next delivery. Alice brought the bags into the kitchen, and set about putting a fortnight’s worth of food away.

    It was as she opened the last bag that she noticed it. There was a note inside the bag. Alice was very annoyed at the carelessness of the packer and/or deliverer. She unfolded it to see what it read.

    It didn’t read anything – then with a flare of magic words appeared. “Open the back door.”

    Alice was sufficiently intrigued that she went to the back door and opened it. Instead of a back garden, she saw an opulent chamber.

    Alice quickly shut the door and yelled up to Amanda to come downstairs.

    “What’s the emergency? Have they messed up your order of Chocolate Snowflakes again?”

    Alice laughed. “Not as bad as that, I hope.” She opened the back door again.

    The scene hadn’t changed. The pair stepped out to explore the new scene.

    The door closed behind them. No sooner had it closed than a man entered the room from the other side. “Welcome to the Palace. Please follow me.” He turned tail and left the room again.

    Alice and Amanda felt that they had little choice. If they weren’t to get lost they had to follow. A short walk later and they followed the whatever-he-was into a throne room.

    At the other end of the room, sitting on a golden throne, was a beautiful woman. On one side of her stood a hind, on the other a pegasus. She was stroking the flanks of both animals constantly.

    “Welcome to my palace. I am in need of some heirs. Are you willing to take on the challenges to see if you are worthy?”

    “Who are you? Why are we here?” Amanda wasn’t much of a diplomat – too much fire in her veins was Alice’s frequent jibe.

    “Blunt. I can live with that.

    “I am Artemis XLII. I rule one of the great kingdoms of magic, and in return I have a longer life than the norm. But a condition of this throne is to remain a maiden. If I am to have an heir I must adopt her. Tradition demands that she pass a series of tests.

    “I summoned you because I believe that you have the necessary abilities to pass the tests.”

    Alice was a little confused. “Was the message just for me or for both of us?”

    “In this case both of you could pass. I left it to the vagaries of magic who would answer my call.

    “Now, are you both willing to take on the Twelve Challenges of Artemis?”

    The young women looked at each other. “Yes,” they said simultaneously.

    “You may regret that ere long. I did during the eleventh challenge.

    “Your first challenge is to identify the imposter in the herd.”

    “What?” Amanda again.

    Artemis smiled. “A key part of each challenge is to figure out what they are. The Adjudicator of the Challenges will take you to the herd.”

    The Adjudicator of the Challenges was the man that they had first met. He left the room and the pair followed him through the palace corridors. Eventually he opened another door and gestured the young women through. He remained on the inside of the door. “I will open the door again when you have succeeded. If you choose to abandon your quest you may say so and I will release you and escort you back to your home.”

    Through the door was a wood, made up of widely spaced deciduous trees of a species unknown to either woman. Wandering around the trunks or grazing on the plentiful grass was a herd of deer.

    “Now we have an emergency. I need a Chocolate Snowflake and we don’t have any.”

    Amanda laughed. “Now we know what we need to do. One of these hinds isn’t a deer. Any idea where we start?”

    “You aren’t taking Faunology for your DIM?”

    Amanda laughed again. “I’m not dim enough for that!”

    Alice smiled. “Fortunately for both of us, I was. I dropped it for my PALE, so everything’s about six months’ old. I hope I can remember enough…”

    “Your memory’s always a lot better than you claim. Any ideas?”

    “Errmm. There are magical faunae that look like ordinary creatures, but I don’t recall one that appears to be a deer…” Alice thought a little more. “There are a few creatures that can change form…” Her voice changed, a reflection of her uncertainty. “Three, perhaps four?”

    Amanda looked around. “So, a shape-shifter of some sort. Would petting each of them in turn help?”

    “Unlikely. There are too many other deer around. Form-shifters tend to adopt the majority form.”

    “So, what are the options and what are they like? And don’t forget anything!”

    “Carnimorphs adopt the form of their prey in order to get close to them. They switch back as soon as they’re ready to hunt, and never eat grass.”

    Amanda looked around. “It looks like all of the deer are feasting on the greenery, so let’s exclude them for now.”

    “Fine. A nerviwere is extremely skittish. It seeks out herds of grazers and adopts their form in order to find safety in numbers. But it always betrays itself by being the most nervous of the herd.”

    “So if I do this…” Amanda headed out into the middle of the herd. But no deer broke and ran into the trees. “I don’t think we have one of those.”

    “Probably not. Errmm. Perhaps a flamemimic? Despite their name they prefer temperate climes, and are not that fond of fire. But they hate cold, they flee from it, often dropping their camouflage in their hurry to do so.”

    “So we need a few snowflakes. You’re pretty good at those.”

    Alice focussed her efforts on the air. The humidity was high enough for a light snowfall, as long as the air was cold enough. But colder air sinks, so she didn’t need to cool the air all the way to the ground

    When enough of the air was sufficiently cold, Alice switched to the water in the air. She cooled and shaped it into snowflakes. Then she let them fall. She needed only to monitor the air temperature as the flakes fell, to ensure that they didn’t melt.

    The flakes started to fall amongst the herd. Initially nothing happened. Then a snowflake fell upon the back of a deer, and it fled, becoming a bright-red thing as it went.

    The two women laughed at the incongruity of the sight. Then the door opened.

    “Congratulations. You have passed the first test. Please follow me back to the Throne Room for the second test.”

    Alice and Amanda followed the Adjudicator through the Palace. They wondered what the remaining challenges would entail…

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Fiona Grey prompted

    “Why do the legends call it the singing road?”

    First cut…

    The tour guide grinned as the American looked around and then asked the same question that always came up.

    “Why do the legends call it the singing road?”

    He swung his arm out, and stopped the little group on the stone road across the moors.

    “Well, there are several theories about that. But the one that I prefer is simple. The Romans built this road, and their troops marched across it. Now, if you will listen…”

    He waited, and they all stared at him. Then he lifted his foot and brought it down, hard’ against the stone surface. And a heartbeat later, there was an echo! A thud, from under the stone.

    They all looked down at the stone block under their feet as the sound rose.

    “The geologists tell me it’s just a trick of the way they built this road, with stone blocks across the moors, and the rains that we get in the spring. Creates a natural echo chamber underneath. All I know is there’s an echo when you hit the road.”

    He smiled as they looked up at him.

    “Imagine, if you will, what happens when a troop of soldiers march along here. The road beats back at them! And if they sing as they march, say a chant to make the marching go well, it will seem as if the road is singing along with them.”

    Now he smiled at the American.

    “So, the singing road.”

    He just hoped none of them had enough mage sense to notice that the road glowed slightly, and would happily respond to a mage song with its own refrain…

    (ho, ho, ho… what happens next?)

    Liked by 2 people

    • Another attempt, for fun!

      A Singing Road

      Legends call it the singing road,
      Others talk of the trail of tears,
      Or the road less taken,
      The hard road back.

      The road that goes on forever…
      Follow the yellow brick road.
      The sky road by the singing sea?
      How many roads must a…

      Do you hear the roads calling,
      Singing to you?
      Country roads, take me…

      All roads lead to…
      Well, where would you go?
      Step out, walk, drive, see what sights,
      What sounds, who else is there,
      What marvels await you.
      Just go.

      For this road,
      Every road to
      Everywhere,

      Is your road.
      Every day, every hour, every minute.
      It sings to you!

      Listen.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Okay, so this one got really dark, really fast. Leigh gifted me with After the Poison Summer is gone.

    After the Poison Summer is gone, where will we be? What will we do?

    Last summer became known as Poison Summer when the die-off started. Little noticed at first, and when it was, everybody just assumed that it was a life cycle for that plant or insect. Then, it moved to small mammals, then larger ones, then humans. Not all of every flora or fauna, but a large portion. The public started to panic. The government did as well. But politicians don’t know how to deal with Mother Nature. Or aliens.

    The funny thing is, the percentages of each plant, insect, and mammal are exactly the same as they were before. Only the raw numbers were reduced. Roughly 15% of the totals were lost. That took humanity down to six billion from seven billion. Was this some sort of planetary reset? The dying stopped exactly on the first day of autumn.

    This summer I am waiting with bated breath. Will it happen again, or have we completed this cycle? How long is the cycle? Will I survive again?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dark, yes, but I struggle to think of a happy poison summer. Outside of an alchemist-in-training who enjoys her poisons course, or maybe a poison dart frog romance…??

      I like this – complicated ecosystem of science behind it, but could be a really fascinating race against time to try to prevent Poison Summer 2 if you ever wanted to expand it. Because we all know sequels are worse. (Cue evil author laughter.)

      Liked by 2 people

  4. “Did you find the grave?”
    “I think so.”
    “What do you mean?”
    “Well, I had the coordinates. But when I found the stone, the epitaph simply said ‘He Served’ and there was no name.”
    “That was him.”
    “I left the bottle.”
    “Some drunk will find it.”
    “I didn’t say I left it full.”

    Shortest prompt response ever… I got home from the flying trip to TX this afternoon, and then spent the rest of the day in a whirlwind of loading a Big Truck, packing the last odds and sods, and cleaning. Tomorrow morning more of the same, before we caravan back to Texas and our new start in life. It’s an adventure!

    Liked by 4 people

    • Hang in there! My experience over the last month is that packing and moving goes quick, then unpacking starts… and all the fun of “where do we put this?” And what happened to… that all takes a while. By the way, you haven’t seen my extra cell phone cable, have you? I could have sworn I packed it… somewhere…

      Liked by 3 people

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