Welcome! Year three of odd prompts here at More Odds Than Ends, and this year’s theme is hope. Hope, because it’s the perfect word for us odd creatives, making the worlds we want to see come alive.
So with that, grab a spare or send in a prompt to email@example.com. The challenge is in an idea you wouldn’t expect, or bring to yourself; the only expectation is the readers eager to see what developments have been wrought in pen and paper this week.
|AC Young||The celebrations were scheduled to take place two days after the event.||Nother Mike|
|Fiona Grey||The book was so disappointing she sent it flying back across the room, where it landed with an audible huff of annoyance.||Leigh Kimmel|
|Leigh Kimmel||There are a number of cop cars out in front of your house. You think they said something about a warrant, and then you realize they said wyvern.||Becky Jones|
|nother Mike||You got a free gift box at the store. When you got it home, you realized it was labeled…||Cedar Sanderson|
|Cedar Sanderson||Accelerating in reverse||Fiona Grey|
|Becky Jones||The wild cat did howl…and stalk through the back yard.||Ray Krawczyk|
|Ray Krawczyk||The round passing through my belly made a wet, hollow sound.||AC Young|
For those passing through in the night, trying out a resolution, or have lost all sense of time, here are your spares. Look, free writing prompts!
|Spare||The zombie onstage was playing a Johnny Cash song.|
|Spare||When they played disco music, the minotaur started…|
|Spare||Finding a puzzle piece in the cake made it much more interesting…|
|Spare||When the sperm banks removed all racial labeling, the children came in all colors… even green and purple!|
|Spare||What they heard on the old cassette tape…|
See you next week in the comments, and happy 2022. I hope it will be a better year for us all!
Header image by Fiona Grey
Ray! Hi! So cool to have you here!
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Ugh. Tried to post my reply. It’s giving me grief.
It’s cool to be here.
Way back there was prompt aimed at someone else, but I speculated a bit about it and was told to go for it. I started, and then hit a wall… or ice patch.. or giant marshmallow. But the introduction remains, and I’ve finally given in/up and just posted the rough start I have:
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I love it! Now I want to know what happens once they locate Horton!
So do I, but… nothing.. nada.. zilch… HARD VACUUM. No, REALLY HARRRRRD VACUUUUUUM. I’d LIOVE to tell the story. Or even just KNOW the story… but… if I have a muse, said muse is narcoleptic.
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In this week’s cycle, I was prompted by Ray Krawczyk: The round passing through my belly made a wet, hollow sound.
It took a while, but once I’d found a suitable identity for ‘me’ the story flowed.
I soared across the battlefield.
This was not the first time a battle had been fought here. It was not even the first time I’d fought above this plain.
The dragon lands were verdant and the other kingdoms desired them greatly. But they were surrounded on the east by the ocean and on the west by mountain ranges, and we dragons held them all. There were only a few places where a human army could march through. The widest of these was called the Exglaris Gap.
The enemy were trying to force their way through the Exglaris Gap again.
The first time I’d fought here I had flown with no load on my back. I was just a youngster in my first war, and I had no understanding of the dangers of human weaponry. By modern standards they weren’t that dangerous. A longbow could fire an arrow only so far into the sky, and if the archer wished it to penetrate our scales the range was much reduced. Crossbows had greater range and power, but in practice they could only be fired once. If the flight could avoid the quarrels we could burn their lines with fire before they could reload.
Yes, the battlefield was much safer for us dragons then.
But humans are inventive. For their wars they developed firearms. Initially they suffered from the same issues as crossbows – the humans fire once and then the surviving dragons (most of the flight) burned the humans in revenge.
But the humans developed techniques to increase the frequency of their fire. For a short time it was necessary for us to dive through the gunfire to burn the invading forces.
But even those techniques became too dangerous. So we, masters of the skies, lords of all that we chose to fly over, voluntarily became beasts of burden. Yes, we started to go into battle with armed humans on our backs.
Humans. As draconic subjects and draconic soldiers they are very useful (many live in the dragon lands – as best as we can tell they seem to prosper under our rule). As enemies they are very irritating.
It was a decision that meant that the younger dragons could not go to war to defend our lands as they had once done, as I had done at their age. Only dragons old enough and powerful enough to carry the required load could soar across the battlefield.
But it enabled us to keep the human kingdoms away from our lands. So we have retained it. And as the humans developed their technology further, it even enabled us to kill our enemies from above from a greater range than our own dragonfire could reach.
On my back I carried a wooden structure. It held two men, both armed with machine guns, attached to rails that enabled them to fire over my shoulders at the enemy on the ground. Their range was significant, but only a little more than the range of the enemy’s weaponry, which was much more than we could reach with our fire. Annoyingly dragonfire was now a form of battlefield signalling, no longer the supreme weapon of war which it was when I first flew.
In the corner of my eye I saw the flame from the General of the Flight. Two short bursts, followed by a long burst. It was the signal to dive, so I did.
Halfway-down I ordered the men on my back to open fire. They did. A short time later the enemy responded. I kept going. As we got closer our accuracy improved. The enemy lines started to wither.
At twice dragonfire range I terminated my dive – to go any closer would be potentially suicidal, and I had no desire to die on this field. Then as I climbed back into the skies it happened. A single lucky shot. Not through a leg or wing or tail, or even into my face – I’ve suffered all those before and don’t mind them all that much. No, this round passed through my belly, making a wet, hollow sound as it did so.
The pain was significant, but no more than I’ve felt before on battlefields. Nonetheless I turned immediately for home, and sought to glide through the gap, desperately hoping to escape enemy range before they hit me again. That sound as the bullet passed through me. I had heard it before. I knew what it meant. I had seen dragons fall from the sky, unable to reach safety in time.
As I glided down away from the enemy I signalled. Three short bursts of dragonfire, used only when a dragon needs to leave the battlefield for medical reasons, and sometimes not even used then.
As I went, I could hear it. The constant whistling as the air in my flight sack escaped. A short time later I could feel the effects, an increased strain on the muscles holding my wings in place. I shouldn’t be even thinking this, but I was afraid – the flight sack is a critical element of what enables us dragons to fly: lighter than air gas kept heated at a high temperature by our physiology, it significantly reduces the mass our wings have to lift.
With every second that passed more air escaped from my flight sack. I was getting heavier, and I could feel it. My wing muscles were straining more and more. It was only a matter of time before I had to increase the angle of my descent in order to avoid muscles snapping.
I was over halfway there. Bullets had stopped whistling past my wings, although one had hit my right rear foreleg – I suspected it had hit the bone, breaking it in two. I was over our own lines now. Unless things went badly wrong I would be looked after by my own side rather than slain by the enemy. But the closer I got to the Health Lair, the sooner I would get the healthcare I needed.
I was now almost at the gap. Almost there. But I was now too heavy. I adjusted my glide angle, falling faster from the sky. I couldn’t increase my angle of descent any further. I wouldn’t be able to land safely.
In the gap. Almost there. My muscles strained as I tried to keep up a safe descent. The ground was approaching. Only a few minutes to go.
Then snap! My right wing shot vertical, the muscles had sheared under the strain. I swiftly raised my left wing to the same angle. But it may already be too late. I’m rotating to my right as I fall to the ground. Will I get there in time?
Crash. I land. But not on all fours. Only my right legs take the strain. Both fail me. I end up flat on my chest, with two inoperative right legs, one inoperative right wing and a burst flight sack.
How close was I to the Health Lair? How long would it take for them to reach me?
I’d find out soon enough. In the meantime, I was a commanding officer, with humans under my command. They had survived intact. Good; they would be useful to me now, and then to my fellow dragons in the battle I had just left. I ordered them to dismount, and find the nearest engineering brigade – the structure on my back needed to be removed as soon as possible; it limited what the medical staff could do to return me to full fitness.
It was a few minutes before the first medically trained humans arrived to do triage. A few minutes later the engineering brigade arrived. Between them, the two groups of humans figured out how to remove the carrying cage from my back, and carry me on a stretcher to the Health Lair.
Now it was just a matter of time, and I’d be back soaring over a battlefield once more…
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AC Young prompted…
The celebrations were scheduled to take place two days after the event.
Sigh. Kicking it around in the backbrain doesn’t seem to be sparking anything, really. Well, aside from the notion that the event is something like sports, a marathon or other event, or maybe a knights melee? Something that is so exhausting that the participants need at least a day to recover. When you watch the poor athletes try to make sense after some Olympic events or others, when they interview them within minutes of the event, it makes a lot of sense to push the celebration off.
[And the announcer said…]
“Yes, folks, here they come! These athletes have run the marathon of a lifetime this last week, along the Amazon river. And it’s not just running, they have to feed themselves with what they can catch barehanded, although almost all of them have some rocks and handmade spears by now. And defend themselves from attacks, too! Remember the mega-transformer that Japan sent? That was quite a challenge for the athletes, but most of them made it past that one. The scorpions from Arizona were also a problem. But now we are at the goal, and they are walking and running to see… Wait, what is happening?”
“I hope you were all watching that, because those athletes have shown us the true meaning of the sport! Instead of fighting to be the first across the goal, they stopped, and waited, and they all walked up to the goal line and crossed together! What a finish!”
“Now, I know some of you are hoping for instant interviews with the athletes. However, as you can see, the trainers and medical squads are busily taking over, and we will not see the athletes again today. Or tomorrow! No, the celebrations were scheduled for two days after the event, to give the athletes a chance to recover. And frankly, I am not sure we will see them even then.”
“But whenever we get to the celebrations and interviews, I’m sure we’re going to be talking a lot about that finish! Imagine, if you will, what it took for all the athletes to join together and finish as a team! They’ve been competing all week, fighting the hazards of the Amazon basin and the added challenges provided by our sponsors around the world, and yet, when it came down to the goal, they did it together! What a story! And stay with us, we’ll get all the inside information as quickly as we can.”
[Hum, that might work…]
It’s really good fun. And there’s plenty of room for additions/expansions.
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[…] Week 1 MOTE prompt came from Leigh Kimmel: There are a number of cop cars out in front of your house. You think they […]
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But what happens next?
[…] This week, Cedar Sanderson challenged me with accelerating in reverse, and a challenge it was. Mine went to Leigh Kimmel, and I can’t wait to see what she did with a flying, annoyed book… […]
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Now that might need an illustration… here he comes, again! Run!
[…] was prompted this week by ‘Nother Mike, with “You got a free gift box at the store. When you got it home, you […]
No problem, mangled prompts are good for writing too!
And now I have mine up on my LiveJournal at https://starshipcat.livejournal.com/1082000.html. It went a little differently than I’d expected at first, but I think it works reasonably well.
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Oh, book on the loose!
And I mangled the prompt a bit, to fit it into the WIP. https://www.cedarwrites.com/2022/01/11/odd-prompts-what-train/
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If this doesn’t work, I’m done.
The end didn’t come with a bang or a whimper. It came with a horrible electronic screeching.
Our desire for interconnectedness doomed us. We wanted to seamlessly move from home to car to work, everything linked together. All our media, our entertainments and documents, our electronic lives had to be at our fingertips twenty-four hours a day.
We don’t know who did it. We don’t know where it started. Because all of those interconnected devices, the self-driving cars, the appliances that told us when the milk had gone off, the housecleaning bots that knew when everyone was out of a room so that they could sweep through, making everything clean and spotless. As soon as one of them fell, the virus spread to the next device it was meshed with.
And our world went crazy.
For me, it happened when I was in the shower. The bathroom door slammed open and the cleaning bot stalked in, toilet brush extended from its forearm, speaker screeching like a madman. I thought it had malfunctioned. It had, just not a routine, call the repair service, kind of malfunction.
It launched itself at me, the tempered glass wall of the shower shattering as the poly frame of the bot impacted it hard enough to overstress the substance. It shattered into a million glittering cubes and the bot smacked me in the face with its toilet brush. The shower changed temperature then, from comfortably hot to ‘scald the baby’ hot. I shouted, set my feet to push the bot off me, and screeched in pain as the shattered glass lacerated my feet.
Betwixt and between, I slammed the bot backwards and followed, eager to get out of the painful deluge, even if I had to walk over broken glass to do it. Which I did.
The bot slipped on some of those same glass cubes and the hard tile floor, losing its balance and crashing into the door frame. Its head went askew and it lay there, half in, half out of the bathroom, twitching, jerking and still making the awful electronic racket.
I picked up the pedestal toilet paper hold and swung it like a mallet, striking the bot over and over until its head came clean off. The screech died with the bot and I was able to sit on the commode and examine my feet. It took me a minute to steel myself to pluck out the shards of glass embedded there. Feet wounds bleed like mad. The bathroom vanity supplied some spray wound dressing that would at least staunch the bleeding until I could make it to the doctor.
The shower control panel was unresponsive. The hot water sprayed out relentlessly, washing the glittering shards towards the drain. I needed clothes. I needed my phone. I needed to call a repairman.
As soon as I left the bathroom, the vacuum cleaner attacked me in the hall. It rammed into my just-bandaged feet. I still had the toilet paper holder and it made quick work of the vacuum cleaner. The sad little disc sat in a pile of its own shattered plastic carapace when I was done.
Someone was going to pay for this.
I stalked to my bedroom and picked up my phone. The screen flashed red when I picked it up. HUMAN DETECTED it proclaimed in block script. Then I felt it get hot in my hand. Very hot. And then it burst into flame. I dropped it to the carpet where it exploded with a feeble pop, scattering burning embers about my bedroom. I shouted in alarm and pulled my feet up onto the bed.
Just then the whole screen entertainment system flashed to life. HUMAN DETECTED it proclaimed in the same block script my phone had used. Then the script disappeared to be replaced by a frowny face. A circular logo orbited around the face that said ‘YOU WILL DIE’ repeated three times around the circumference of the circle. The sour reek of scorched carpet competed with the obnoxious smoke from burning phone, making my bedroom untenable.
I decamped to the living room. There, my bartending bot attacked me with a corkscrew. I had been wary upon entering, trying to recall how many bots I had in there. Deprived of its main weapon it produced a zester and came at me again. I delivered a body blow that snapped its spine at the cost of a zested left shoulder.
I went out to the balcony to see if this was an isolated incident or if the whole world had gone mad. The patio umbrella attempted to take my head off, but I wrestled it out of the table and tossed it over the railing into the pool where it drowned.
The cityscape below me was dotted with fires. Dimly, through the smoke I could see people running for their lives on the streets, pursued by shopping carts, hot dog stands and even slowly, by a steam roller. Closer at hand I heard a triumphant roar.
Looking towards my neighbor’s house I saw his ridiculous sports car, a Dodge Wild Cat doing a burnout in the driveway.
Correction. Doing a burnout on my neighbor, in his driveway.
I raced, still naked and bearing my fearsome war toilet paper holder, to the front door. Which refused to open for me. HUMAN DETECTED the security panel proclaimed. To be replaced by a frowny face a moment later.
Not wanting to see what mischief it would come up with if I stayed in its general vicinity I retreated to the balcony. It was only a ten-foot drop to the concrete pool deck. None of the furniture around the pool offered any way to shorten the drop. My injured feet didn’t relish the idea of absorbing the impact, but staying in the house was not a good idea.
I dropped the toilet paper holder over the side in case I needed to defend myself, then clambered over the railing. With some strain and difficulty, I managed to grab hold of the lowest part of the railing, hang and drop. My feet began bleeding again upon impact with the concrete of the deck, but that was the least of my worries. The lawnmower started up and deployed from its charging station, hurling itself at me. The control panel displaying the frowny face and its orbiting intent to kill.
I stood frozen beside the pool. My weapon nowhere near enough to grab as the lawnmower charged. At the last moment I leapt aside. The lawnmower, never designed for high performance, couldn’t stop in time and flew to a water doom aside the patio umbrella.
Outside my fence, I heard the roar of a powerful engine. I grabbed my weapon and ducked behind a potted palm. The fence shattered and my neighbor’s car surged into the back yard.
I crouched there, trembling, holding my war toilet paper holder, helpless against the strongest enemy I had yet faced this insane day.
The Wild Cat did howl…and stalk through the back yard.
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Hi, Ray! Welcome! And this is fantastic – worth the work to get it posted!
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Wow! That’s amazing! And I have nightmares about the “smart home” stuff going rogue, which is why I will never have a smart home!
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Just found this site – thanks for the inspiration. I’ve mulled over this for a week and found that I couldn’t drop this idea without attempting to write it out. What do you think?
The celebrations were scheduled to take place two days after the event. He had worked hard to ensure that his ascendency to President appeared legitimate, and could not fall at the final hurdle. Contrary to popular belief, all is not over at the closing of Election Day. He had carefully planned this two day grace period, ostensibly to count the votes, in what he would, of course, call a close run contest. It was the final piece of the illusion. Any insurgents could too easily criticise a landslide election, and an early star-spangled victory parade would lend fuel to the fire of rebellion. No, a calculated move was required: he had to convince any rebels that they had fought a good fight and yet, despite this, they had been defeated by the will of the electorate. It was not a case of winning hearts and minds, and more a case of anaesthetising them. And what better drug is there to paralyse and subdue than the misery of grief and loss.
So, whilst his handsomely paid media team kept shooting roll after roll of ballot boxes being emptied and counted – the actual boxes ticked carefully obscured of course – he could focus on ramping up his state machinery. And quietly silencing the dissenting voices that needed more permanent solutions.
They say the first 100 days in office are the most crucial. This may be true, but no one seems to focus on the preceding 100. That was always the mistake. So much could quickly and quietly be put in place during this time, whilst the country whipped itself up into a furore. Behind this red and blue smokescreen, he had progressed his master plan. And now, on day 97, with just 2 days to go, all that was left was to plan his victory celebrations.