Week 24 of Odd Prompts

Legend has it, that in the day of pulps, the golden age of magazine fiction, the days when you could smash up a story on your typewriter and slip it in an envelope and send it off… that you’d get paid for such endeavours. Some writers even made a living at it. What happened when you ran out of ideas, though? Well, the legend continues, you could send off an envelope inside an envelope, with your own address on it, and a stamp on both envelopes, and back again would come a list of ideas.

This is the internet age. I’m not sure the children would know what a self addressed stamped envelope referred to. A sentient envelope? Besides, who has time to check the mailbox for days, waiting on your ideas to show up. No, these are the days of instant gratification. If you are in search of ideas, look no further, my friend. We have your back.

Cedar SandersonIf life is circular, and you never quite get fast enough to see yourself going around that corner, what happens when….nother Mike
AC YoungWhen the rulebook for the first ever Interplanetary Games was announced there was an outcry from the Martian and Lunar Colonies. All the competitions had to be held at Earth-standard gravity – in the eyes of non-Earth-based competitors this biased the Games in favour of the Earth-based countries.Cedar Sanderson
nother MikeWhen they opened the door of the refrigerator, a sword fell out.Leigh Kimmel
Fiona Grey“All the things I’ve done, Bugsy, and you know what they yell at me for? Pulling my hair back with a rubber band. I’m telling you, those dames have some whacked priorities.”AC Young
Becky JonesThe turtles lined up on the log waiting for their turn at the high dive into the river.Fiona Grey
Leigh KimmelThe project seemed small and manageable. But the more you got done on it, the more you discovered you needed to do.Becky Jones

Want your very own prompt this next week? Send in an email. No stamping needed. Reply by return email in two shakes of a lamb’s tail. If you don’t want to commit to a prompt swap, make sure you put spare in the subject line. Then, on Wednesday, come back here and behold… spare ideas. Need more? We’ve got a year and a half of them. Feel free to browse.

SpareThe singer sounded like he’d stepped on rusty nails and was gargling with pop rocks.
SparesOn the subway, a purse left on a seat is ringing. The cellphone inside beeps. Do you answer it?
SparesAt the airport, they announce that an alien pet has escaped from quarantine. Then a furry lump slips into your lap, blinks, and says, “Please, help me!”
SparesThe gnome popped out of the door in the tree as I was parking the car.

Email your prompts, spare or otherwise, to oddprompts@gmail.com and if you write something in response to an idea you’ve found here, we’d love to see it. Feel free to drop a link, or even what you wrote, in comments. Plus, you get the fun of seeing what someone wrote in response to your prompt, if you joined the challenge. It’s a great little accountability vehicle. No, it doesn’t pay. The Golden Age has slipped into the shadows, along with SASE and magazines. That doesn’t mean you can’t whet your writing skills, and pick up some great ideas!



    • Along the same lines…

      Someone phoned me up and offered me a booklet of great ideas. When the booklet arrived in the post, it turned out he was a fireplace salesman…

      Liked by 1 person

  1. This week I was assigned the prompt supplied by Fiona Grey: “All the things I’ve done, Bugsy, and you know what they yell at me for? Pulling my hair back with a rubber band. I’m telling you, those dames have some whacked priorities.”

    This one went very dark very quickly. I don’t think that given a choice there would be that many people who would choose to live in the unnamed town I ended up setting this in.

    A woman made her way through the crowd. To an onlooker she was just another one of the many young women in the club. But she was no sheep. A freelance vigilante, she went by the codename Black Vixen, and she was here on a hunt.

    As she approached the bar she scanned the crowd for her prey. There he was: John Henry FitzRoy, the eldest son of the Town Mayor. Which explained a great deal. In this town the Mayor was whoever could afford to bribe enough of the key electoral personnel – and then bribe the Chief of Police not to investigate the bribes. George Clarence FitzRoy had bought the last three elections, and was set to be the longest serving Mayor in the town’s recent history. As a consequence young John Henry knew that he could get away with a great deal, because his father would just bribe the police to ignore any complaints.

    Hence the reason Black Vixen had been hired. The Council of Dames was a shadowy organisation that claimed to look after the interests of the women in this town. Black Vixen knew that they only cared about higher class women – they couldn’t care less about the poorer of their sex. But the daughter of one of the dames claimed to have been raped by John Henry, and the Council of Dames couldn’t let that lie.

    Black Vixen had been hired to mete out appropriate punishment since the police would take no notice – but she knew that she had to be careful. George Clarence would insist that the police thoroughly investigate anything that happened to his eldest.

    Black Vixen slid onto the stool next to her quarry at the bar. Now she had to play a role – she had to pretend that she was an interesting sheep.

    An hour later and her plans were coming to fruition. John Henry had invited her up to his room in the hotel above the club. She had gone willingly. As she had hoped, John Henry then proceeded to show off with champagne.

    She accepted her glass, sipped it, put it down and then kissed him. While he was distracted she slipped a drug into his glass. Now she just had to wait.

    It took half an hour for enough of the drug to make its way into John Henry’s system. As it took effect he put his half-drunk glass of champagne down on the side, sat down on the bed, and then collapsed, falling backwards to lie down on the bed.

    Now Black Vixen put her plans into action. She had carefully secreted a pair of gloves under her dress. She extracted them and put them on. She stripped John Henry naked, putting the clothes in the container for room service to wash. Next she removed four thin ropes from around her waist and tied him wrists and ankles to the four corners of the bed.

    Finally she removed a knife from a sheath on her upper thigh. The contract specified a specific pattern of mutilation, something perceived by the Council to be appropriate for the offence. Black Vixen proceeded methodically to perform the deed. Fortunately there was no need for her to produce photographic evidence of the deed – the Council had enough contacts within the Police to obtain the crime scene photos for themselves.

    Now she needed to tidy up, to ensure that she wouldn’t be caught. The drug she had used played havoc with the subject’s short-term memories, so his descriptions of her would be useless to the Police. John Henry had some wipes in his room, so she appropriated one and wiped his face thoroughly. Now her DNA was only on her glass and his clothes. She put the container with his clothes outside the door in the corridor – as long as they were picked up before John Henry was discovered she couldn’t be identified by that route. The glasses she took into the bathroom, tipped their contents down the sink, and thoroughly washed them both. She also washed and dried her knife before putting it back into its scabbard.

    Now she only needed to ensure that John Henry wouldn’t be discovered too early. Opening the wardrobe she discovered a collection of ties, and used one of them as a gag. Now no-one would discover him until some time tomorrow morning. She slipped away, closing the room’s door behind her.

    The following evening she was summoned to meet the Council of Dames. This time she went in full costume, with her vixen mask covering her face.

    As she entered the chamber she carefully hid her contempt for the women seated in front of her. In the centre was the chair, a woman going by the title Dame Hera – she ran the town’s brothels and treated the prostitutes like slaves – Black Vixen had been hired by more than one family to get their daughter/sister out. One of the women on Dame Hera’s right was Dame Joan – she’d poisoned her own sister to inherit her seat at the table – Black Vixen’s mother had been involved in the plot before her own mysterious death. On the other side of the table was Dame Myrtle – she controlled the illegal drugs trade in the area – Black Vixen had killed a number of the dealers for selling to her friends. Black Vixen knew secrets about every single Dame – not that they knew that she knew.

    Dame Hera stood up. She was furious. “How dare you come before us with that hairstyle! Ponytails are the sign of sluts. Reputable women, women hired by this august council wear their hair down. Take it out now!”

    Black Vixen sighed. She’d forgotten the Council’s weird hatred for certain hairstyles. Out came the rubber band.

    After that the meeting went much more smoothly. The Council thanked her for being the arm of justice and agreed to pay her the full amount agreed.

    Later, in a secret location frequented only by the town’s vigilantes, Black Vixen vented to her friend, codename Bugsy. “All the things I’ve done, Bugsy, and you know what they yell at me for? Pulling my hair back with a rubber band. I’m telling you, those dames have some whacked priorities.”

    Bugsy laughed. “But they don’t know half of what you’ve done. You’ve been very careful, and never let them find out about the times you’ve been the hand of justice against them.”

    They both laughed, and turned their attention back to their drinks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You know….I’m not sure I admit this is inspired by real life after that story!*

      *I pulled my hair back with a rubber band and five women simultaneously yelled “noooooo!” and offered hairbands that won’t damage your hair. This after the third 12 hour day in a row, austerity contingency planning, and a whole lot of f-bombs.


      • I appreciated the prompt. I’ve resorted to using a lab glove (unused!) to pull my hair back at work. After that happened a time or two I kept a stash of hairbands in my desk.


      • Never say never, but I’ve no plans to expand this at the moment. A world where there’s essentially no justice, and where the agents of justice are essentially laws unto themselves, is enjoyable enough in small doses, but in the absence of a ‘restoration of justice’ plot I don’t think I want to immerse myself in it for a length of time.

        Liked by 3 people

    • Having just recently spent a couple of hours putting together the one-hour DIY gardening shed for my wife (hey, the sales guy assured us it would only take an hour or less)… yeah, those estimates of how big the project is almost always seem to leave out a few things! Nice little details, and I do wonder where those tribbles came from… (says the guy who followed the original when it first came out)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Cedar Sanderson prompted…

    If life is circular, and you never quite get fast enough to see yourself going around that corner, what happens when….

    You turn around and go the other way? You stop in the middle and just wait a while? You get a skateboard and speed up a lot?

    And, feeling philosophical, this is what came out…

    It Feels Like Deja Vu All Over Again
    By Mike Barker

    You probably think you know all about deja vu. Been there, and done that, and somehow, it feels like you did it before, right? Or maybe you saw it before? But it’s just an illusion, right? Reincarnation, precognition, all that stuff, it isn’t real, is it?

    That’s what I thought, too. Then one day, I took the corner too fast, and ran into myself. Again and again, and again. We had a mass train wreck of me in that instant, on that corner of time.

    See, I had stumbled, and I wasn’t looking where I was going, and… I ran into myself.

    Since then, well, I remember. And I see myself going around that track, one more time, all the time.

    Some times it feels like I’ve been running around this life forever, and you know, it might be. I do wonder what it would be like to get off the exercise wheel, and just who is watching me go through this life again.

    Wait, there’s the end coming up! Again. And…

    Maybe I’ll get to rest now…

    Not The End

    Liked by 2 people

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