Week 49 of Odd Prompts

This week, giant gingerbread men terrorize the village, brightly colored lights spark crystallized fires, and the grinch gleefully stalks those neighbors with one too many glowing, light-up reindeer in the front lawn.

Ahem. I mean, that’s what happens to our main characters, that is. Can’t let them have a good day, after all. That’d be boring. And what is a writer’s calling, but to entertain?

You know how it goes by now – send in an idea to oddprompts@gmail.com and mark it as spare if you don’t want a trade. Now, on with the prompts!

PrompterPromptPromptee
Fiona GreyThe belladonna tasted like bitter blueberry and regret.Cedar Sanderson
AC YoungThe transport system on Colony 49 [name to be determined once it became important] was planned in advance. A number of model railways were built to test various solutions to the planners’ rail transportation problems.Leigh Kimmel
Becky JonesThe Christmas decorations shifted from yard to yard every night.nother Mike
nother MikeThe man in the trash can looked dead…AC Young
Leigh Kimmel“Famous Last Words” by Billy Joel (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dEtcu-l9wDo for those who aren’t familiar with the lyrics)Fiona Grey
Cedar SandersonA toasted fractal marshmallowBecky Jones

Sometimes the spares fit best with a work in progress, or when you forget it’s prompt day.

SparesThe prompt of nightmares: When the clowns went to war.
SparesThe magical, missing herd of goats was found tracing an intricate Irish pattern in the field, visible only by aerial view.
SparesThe six-fingered aliens counted in base 7. They could count up to 100 (49 in base 10) on their fingers.
SparesMaybe a smart kitchen wasn’t such a good idea…
SparesWhen the ship caught the meteorite and they cracked it open, they didn’t expect to find a message from the stars…

And with that, we’ll see you with seasonal cheer* in the comments.

Header image by Fiona Grey, gingerbread man parade balloon.

*Seasonal cheer definition may vary.

15 comments

  1. In this week’s cycle I received nother Mike’s present: The man in the trash can looked dead…

    It took me a little while to figure out an explanation for why, but here goes…

    Henry made his way swiftly down the stairs of the block of flats he lived in. He was already late – he had needed to leave for work ten minutes ago. He reached the ground floor lobby, quickly checked the mail – nothing for him since the last time he’d checked – and then opened the front door.

    The dustbins for the block were stored on the opposite side of the cul-de-sac, and one of them had fallen over, appearing to have something in it. He glanced across, and saw what it was. “Oh, Hell!” Now he would be really late for work.

    Henry quickly phoned the emergency services and asked for the police. It looked as if a dead body had been stuffed into one of the dustbins.

    The police were reasonably quick, and the first officers reviewed the scene. One of them got onto his radio and called for an ambulance. What Henry hadn’t noticed, for he hadn’t approached the body any closer than he had needed to, was that the blooded and gashed man wasn’t a corpse, but was somehow, miraculously, alive.

    The paramedics were the next to arrive. Carefully, compassionately, they removed the man from the dustbin. Even Henry, from some distance away, could see that he had been slashed across much of his body. The paramedics did what they needed to, then put the man, still apparently unconscious, onto a stretcher and into the ambulance.

    Before they left to take the patient to the nearest hospital, the lead paramedic spoke to one of the policemen. Henry was close enough to overhear most of it. In the paramedic’s opinion the man had been slashed many times by some sort of wild animal. The gashes looked to be claw marks, from a fairly large paw.

    The policeman looked as if he was not pleased to hear this and no sooner had the ambulance left than he got on his radio and reported it in.

    It was only half an hour later that an unmarked car arrived and a DCI got out, and started to interview the witnesses, Henry first.

    Henry was very interested to know why claw marks were enough to get a senior detective called into this particular case, but the policemen were very disciplined and told him nothing, being interested only in what Henry had seen and done.

    When the interview was over, Henry was released to make his very late way to work.

    Henry kept scouring the online news for information on the man in the dustbin, but there was nothing. It was another six months before he learnt the full story.

    Henry was summoned as a witness to the case to a trial. He managed to wrangle enough time off work to listen to the entirety of the prosecution’s case.

    There were a number of defendants. They were accused of running an illegal, underground, gladiatorial show. They would kidnap people, give them a knife, and set them against a large animal. For some shows they would pit a number of people against a number of creatures.

    The gladiators almost always lost. Winners had to fight again – they were considered to owe the organisers the cost of replacing the animal they’d killed.

    When a gladiator lost the animal was rounded back up by the organisers and returned to its cage. Any wounds it had suffered were never looked at. They made its next fight more interesting to the onlookers, who gambled large sums on the outcome of the fights. Unsurprisingly many of the charges were for animal cruelty.

    The loser was removed from the field and dumped in a random dustbin some distance from the arena. The organisers didn’t care. To them, the people that they kidnapped were scum, rubbish, trash, so they dealt with the bodies accordingly.

    Unsurprisingly most of their victims died. The man outside Henry’s flat had been the first to survive the ordeal. It was his testimony that had enabled the police to break the case wide open.

    The lawyers hired by the defence were vicious, trying their best to rip every prosecution witness to shreds. But it was all for no avail. The defendants were all found guilty of enough of the charges by the jury that they were all sentenced to a very long time in jail.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. And now I have my effort up on my LiveJournal at https://starshipcat.livejournal.com/1066982.html. I think this is a bit out of a random scene from a much larger work, and it’s quite possible that the characters in the scene aren’t going to be significant, but are just random people being observed by either the protagonist or the antagonist. So I’m going to tuck it away and hope that in time it’ll connect with something else and go somewhere.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Becky Jones postulated…

    The Christmas decorations shifted from yard to yard every night.

    One thought… someone reading their home owners association docs, and wondering about the amendment that calls for yard decorations from a special company… magical robots? Yes, they automatically do a musical chairs round every evening, just at 10 pm…

    Something like this…

    Jerry hoped he could finish the last of the paperwork soon, and then start moving into his new house. He really loved the new subdivision, and the houses were wonderful, but the paperwork! His realtor just smiled, and gave him another cup of coffee, before starting to go over the homeowners association agreement. Whew, they had pages and pages of stuff they agreed to. And… what was that?

    “Hold on. This amendment means I agree to use the services of some company for my yard decorations? Like Christmas decorations, you mean? I can’t even put up my own decorations?”

    The realtor nodded.

    “Not exactly. See, you can put up your decorations, but you have to use their foundation services.”

    “Foundation services? What does that mean?”

    “It’s a little unusual, but they provide a whole set of… I suppose you could call them robot carts. So if you want to put up a tree, you can do that, but you use one of their carts as the base. Or suppose you want to put up a sleigh with Santa and his reindeer, again, you can do it yourself, just use their carts underneath. Or, of course, you can let them put up the decorations. They offer a whole catalog, with lots of personalizations.”

    Jerry shook his head.

    “And what is so special about these carts?”

    Now the realtor laughed.

    “It’s called Musical Magical Decorations for a reason. See, during the evenings, the decorations do a kind of musical chairs shuffle, moving all around the subdivision. Actually, they do a parade through the neighborhood, then settle down again. So every day, you have a new set of decorations. Part of the fun is seeing what turns up at your house, and seeing how the whole neighborhood shifts around every day.”

    “But… what if I have more decorations than my neighbor does?”

    “That’s part of their service. Let’s say you have five carts for your decorations. They guarantee that you will have at least five carts every day, so you might get a mixture. Seriously, they have worked out the bugs on this, and everyone enjoys it.”

    Then the realtor smiled.

    “I tell you what. They made a video of the celebration last year. Let me run that, and you can see what it looks like. I think you’ll be amazed.”

    The video included several houses, with different numbers of decorations. And over the twelve days of Christmas theme song, it showed both the decorations parading through the neighborhood, and then settling in front of the houses. Which looked different each day, but also showed how the robot carts managed to place their decorations for the best. It was amazing.

    Jerry shook his head, but signed the agreement.

    Or maybe…

    We had put up the Christmas decorations in the yard. Santa and the sleigh over here, a nativity scene over there. Wave to the neighbors, who had theirs up, too. And go inside, have a drink, and bed.

    Then, the next morning, look outside… what? That looks like my Santa in their yard? Run out, look around… some of their stuff is in our yard. My Santa is over there. And the nativity scene is down the street two yards? What the heck is going on?

    Needless to say, we called the cops. Who assured us they would be out soon.

    But the guy in a rental car who turned up, dressed in a grey suit, wasn’t a cop. He held out a badge case. And explained that the Federal Bureau of Entomology was a real branch of the government, and that they were taking the lead on this.

    “See, you’ve got an infestation. We’re calling them backstage ants, at least until the scientists come up with a real name. We’re not sure where they came from, but we do know what they do. They move into a neighborhood like yours, and for twelve days, they rearrange the decorations. But that’s all they do, and we can get a crew in here to straighten everything else when they move on. Just as long as…”

    He looked around, and wiped his forehead. Then he leaned forward, and said quietly, “Just as long as the actor bees don’t show up. If they show up, well, the show must go on, you know?”

    That night, the bright lights came up at Joe’s place, and the actors began their dance…

    And in the background, we could hear, “Rocking around the clock tonight, to a Christmas melody…”

    [oops… gotta post this before the next round starts…]

    Liked by 2 people

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