Week 29 of Odd Prompts

We’re more than halfway through the year, and still chugging along productively. With a few hiccups here and there, because life can be pretty crazy. Discipline alone helps keep the writing flow, but it doesn’t hurt to have tips and tricks, either. Whether it’s music to zone out to, exercise, the Pomodoro method and regular practice, or the encouragement and creative suggestions of internet strangers who’ve become friends, let’s keep those creative engines stoked.

On with the prompts! Want to play? Email oddprompts@gmail.com with a prompt idea and trade your imagination with another.

Becky JonesOn a boat tour of Copenhagen harbor, you pass the Little Mermaid statue which gets you thinking about mermaids. Looking down into the water off the bow of the boat you see _____________.nother Mike
Fiona GreyIt was a normal day until the penguins attacked.Cedar Sanderson
AC YoungThe gardener always insisted that the roses were not any old shade of red, but ‘blood red’.Leigh Kimmel
nother MikeWhen the sewers backed up, the alligators started coming out of the toilets…Fiona Grey
Leigh KimmelThe mysterious stranger’s calling card is a single silver feather.Becky Jones
Cedar SandersonEveryone said it was a gas line, but that’s not why the house blew up…AC Young

Life laughing at you? Need a break? Forgot what day it is in this still-not-quite-normal world? Just add “spare” to the phrase you send in, or grab one from the list. Don’t see one you like? Check out over a year and a half’s worth of prompt suggestions! There are no rules. Whatever keeps your prompting fancy going, and those fingers flowing over the keys.

SpareThe day the coffee powers were revealed to the world was an unusual day…
Spare“It eats starlight.”
SpareThe pixie instrument makers made the bells of their wind instruments out of suitably shaped flowers.
SpareThe fine print on the exercise robot warned, “Never expose your robot to fiction.”
SpareThe early smart houses had a strong moral code, and knew how to use the Skinner box of the household to train their humans to that code…
SpareAs the sun set, the dead body that had been lying on the floor of the library sat up and looked around…

That’s it for now, until the comments section fills up. What keeps you going?

Header image by Fiona Grey, Florida



  1. This week I got to play with the prompt supplied by Cedar Sanderson: Everyone said it was a gas line, but that’s not why the house blew up…

    There has to be a gas line explosion, but while it must appear to take out the house, the house must explode from a different cause…

    “It was a terrible tragedy. The contractors thought that they knew where the gas line was, but it had been mis-marked on their plot. They thought that it was safe to dig, but the mechanical digger struck the line, and the resultant spark caused the gas to explode. The explosion created a large hole in the ground, but also passed down the pipe, and the house next door was destroyed as a result. This caused damage to the houses on either side, but the structural engineers have deemed them safe.

    “There were a number of injuries amongst the contractors and residents, including a couple of serious burns. There was also one casualty, a resident of the house that was destroyed.”

    Or so spoke the reporter on the news that night, standing just outside the tape marking the edge of the investigation area, with the newly-created gap in the row of detached houses just over her shoulder. The official investigation would eventually confirm her initial analysis of the events – that by some quirk of probability the gas main explosion had caused the house explosion. The truth, however, was that the two explosions were completely independent…


    Fritz O’Regan was a scientist. He worked in the physics department of the local university, where he worked on the theory of parallel realm gateways. This had once been a hot topic, back when everyone thought that it was only a matter of time before stable gateways were created and inter-realm travel became a reality.

    Connor Harrison had ended all that. His first practical experiments had been a series of disasters, not a single stable gateway amongst them, all of them failing and releasing their stored energy explosively. Connor had set to work, and eventually showed that the instability was a feature of the parallel realm gateway, not a bug in his methods. The instability factor was proportional to a power of e, the power being a multiple of the energy usage needed to open/maintain the gate.

    This theoretical breakthrough had terminated all practical experimentation, and caused the field to be all but abandoned, but Fritz hadn’t given up. He had worked on the problem non-stop for the last ten years, and had finally found a solution. Yes, Fritz had figured out a way to reduce the instabilities in the gateways by a factor of a hundred – which should be enough to make small gateways a viable proposition. He had run through the calculations a large number of times, and confirmed to his own satisfaction that with his improvements the energy requirements of a small gateway should be sufficiently low that the instabilities were controllable.

    But the committee in charge of experiments felt that it was far too risky, and wouldn’t authorise a test.

    Fritz was furious. His chance to make an indelible mark in the history of science had been taken from him for reasons that he could not agree with. He refused to give up. He had to carry out the experiment anyway.

    So he abstracted the necessary equipment, one single piece at a time, and put everything together at home. He would have been in serious trouble had this been discovered by the university – but the field of parallel realm gateways was so badly neglected that much of it was just gathering dust.

    Finally, after a few months of preparation everything was ready. All the equipment was set up and calibrated as best as Fritz could manage it. The power supplies had been connected, and the power lines tested.

    Fritz turned on the power. Now it was a matter of powering up the gate until it reached activation energy. After that the danger was passed, for the energy requirements to maintain a gate was less than the energy requirements to initiate one. Because Fritz knew how large a gate he was trying to open, he had been able to calculate the maintenance energy, but because no-one had ever opened one he didn’t know what the activation energy would need to be.

    The power built. It passed by the gate’s maintenance energy. Fritz’s improved methods were so far enough to keep the potential gate stable – which was more than Connor Harrison had ever managed.

    The power continued to build. It passed twice maintenance energy, and kept going. Now the instabilities were growing, but they were still under control for now. But Fritz was starting to worry – he’d assumed that activation energy would be around twice maintenance energy.

    The power reached two-and-a-half times maintenance energy, and the putative gate started to become visibly unstable – but the activation energy still hadn’t been reached. Fritz saw the instabilities, and tried to terminate the experiment – to try again with a smaller gate.

    But he wasn’t quick enough. The gate lost stability completely. The resultant explosion destroyed all of the equipment, and did significant damage to walls, floors and ceiling. The shockwave was enough to kill Fritz instantly. The house itself was rendered uninhabitable.

    But in one sense Fritz was incredibly lucky. The gateway collapsed at almost the exact same instant as the incident with the gas main. With no clear evidence otherwise all the investigators simply assumed that the two explosions were linked.

    With no evidence left to reveal his scientific malpractice it was never discovered. And when eventually parallel realm gates became a reality, Fritz’s stability improvements, and techniques built upon them, were at the core of the process, so he became quite famous in certain parts of the scientific community.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Becky Jones prompted…

    On a boat tour of Copenhagen harbor, you pass the Little Mermaid statue which gets you thinking about mermaids. Looking down into the water off the bow of the boat you see _____________.

    Brainstorming… or at least dripping…

    Mermaids? Mermen? Spongebob Squarepants? Flying squids, reflected in the water?

    Hum, what about a tourist group of mer people being shown around?

    Or maybe the footprints trailing off… and the Myth that anyone who sees the mermaid’s footprints may be offered a similar choice…

    Quick splinter…

    The tour boat in Copenhagen harbor wasn’t crowded that day, so she stood by the rail and looked across the harbor. The sunshine sparkled from the small waves, just enough to make it look wonderful. The port buildings seemed like grace notes, floating above the water. The boat slowly crawled, rocking gently with the waves. This trip to Europe had helped her put it all behind her, but there was still a lot of pain left. She sighed, and wished…

    Well, she wasn’t quite sure what she wished. Then she chuckled, remembering the tour guide pointing out the Little Mermaid statue, and giving them a quick synopsis of the old story, of the mermaid’s choice and the pain that went with it.

    That’s when she looked down into the water beside the boat and saw her own reflection there, with a crown of white. She blinked, then looked up at the sky, and saw the clouds floating there. And a spirit of the air fluffed her hair, and whispered in her ear, “There will be more, and better, times in the future. Yes, you will have to persevere, as I did, but you too will find your way to glory.”

    She shook her head, and looked all around. The waves winked their gold tips at her, and the wind played across the water. Then she saw the tall Danish man standing in the boat, looking across the water. He had such a lonesome look about him…

    (What do you think will happen?)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Whoa! Hints of spy craft, a retired spy, perhaps, and some mystery that the lady asks about… and the penguins in the Antarctic for background spice… very nice!


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