Week 2 of Odd Prompts

I’ve realized we should probably name these posts something else, but? No idea what. In any case, here are the prompt challenges for those who are playing along! Onward into 2022 we march, with no other choice before us… really. We can’t stop. Not even to take a little rest.

PrompterPromptPrompted
AC YoungIt was raining cats and dogs.Becky Jones
Fiona GreyThe cat hefted her hammer and blew out a breath that perturbed her whiskers.Cedar Sanderson
Becky JonesLight from the rising sun crawled across the little clearing revealing…AC Young
Leigh KimmelThe stairway is in the back — but you’re sure you remember it having been in the middle of the house.Fiona Grey
nother MikeThe escapees from Area 51 knocked at your door just at midnight…Leigh Kimmel
Cedar SandersonRunning late, but not really late, just late enoughnother Mike

And for the commitment-averse among us, here are the spares. Come on it, the imagination is fine! The little bubbles fizz and tingle a bit, that’s all. No, that’s not a fin you see drawing nearer…

Spare“Oxymoron, not oxen morons! What are we going to do with dumb overgrown cows, you laggard?!”
SpareThe bells chimed every night in the ghost town’s church.
SpareAn unexpected gift arrives at your door…
SpareWhen you pick up a pencil and it explodes, John has been there…
SpareThe divorce was held up when both parents insisted that the other spouse take the children…
SpareWhen judges started requiring truth spells for all witnesses that forced the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth in the courtrooms, trials changed…
SpareIn the pentagram, the mythological pentagram, the gryphon sleeps tonight…

Don’t forget to post the responses in the comments, and we’ll see you next week!

23 comments

  1. I missed submitting a prompt. So, I picked up one of the spares.

    The bells chime every night in the ghost town’s church.
    Nothing as prosaic as being able to hear them tolling midnight. No, 8:45pm, each and every night. The time when the old Burrows Mine had caved in.
    In good weather I’d be sitting on my porch, smoking a pipe. In summertime I’d have just enjoyed one of our dazzling sunsets. You get great sunsets in these high mountains. And, down in the valley below my sheep ranch, the bells would peal. You could set your watch by them.
    Green Valley Idaho had been a bustling little town in the late 19th and early 20th century. The Burrows Silver Mine had been a steady draw, providing decent pay and supporting the town that supported the mine. Little ranches, like the one started by my Basque great grandfather, had sprung up. Taking advantage of the facilities and services offered by Green Valley. The railroad had driven a spur line to Green Valley at the insistence of Isaiah Burrows.
    But, the good times had to end.
    It was just any other Wednesday evening in October. The little kids in town were already tucked into bed. I’m sure they were looking forward to the Halloween parties next week. Suddenly, the ground trembled. Eyewitnesses said they saw the ground around the mine heave upward. Flames roared from the ventilation fans pumping fresh air into the mine.
    Something, maybe a random spark, maybe the flames from the miner’s carbide lanterns, had set off a huge methane explosion in one of the galleries. The vertical shaft collapsed.
    People raced about, uncertain of what to do. Finally, someone from the mine got the Methodist church and the bells started ringing. Everyone, come!
    Going into the mine was impossible. The fires had consumed all of the oxygen and there was no breathing apparatus to supply air to the rescuers. The explosions had destroyed the ventilation fans. Even if some of the miners hadn’t been outright killed by the explosion or the collapse, the lack of oxygen had surely doomed them. But there was nothing to be done. 295 men were in the mine that night. Nobody got out alive.
    It was the second worst mine disaster in American history. Almost as bad as the Monongah mine disaster twenty years before. But nobody ever heard of it. Because the next day was Black Thursday. The Burrows Mine collapse on Wednesday, October 23rd, 1929. The next day Wall Street collapsed, and nobody had time to worry about a couple of hundred men in rural Idaho.
    The twin shocks of the mine collapse and the Great Depression killed Green Valley. The railroad that had taken the silver away, slowly took the people away as well. A few hung on. But, when the railroad stopped sending their combination passenger/freight car once a week, everyone who could leave, did.
    My Grandfather used to tell stories about how it was a two-day trip by wagon to get supplies. But he also used to tell stories about how one chilly autumn night in 1937, the bells started sounding, every night.
    During the war, a group of young men, including my grandfather had resolved to stop the bells. So, they went into Green Valley to scavenge all the metal they could. Stoves, an anvil from the old farrier’s shop, odd pots and pans, an old bicycle or two. And the bells from the Methodist church. All told they hauled four tons of metal out of Green Valley for the war effort. A very good day’s work.
    The bells still sounded every night.
    Green Valley had already been shunned by all the ranchers who lived on the highlands around the town. Now it was politely ignored, like a whore in church, people didn’t even acknowledge that it existed. They pretended to not hear the bells. You ghosts stay over there and we’ll stay over here.
    A fire took the buildings that hadn’t already collapsed in the nineteen sixties. By the time I came along in the eighties there was just a few collapsing cellars along what was left of the streets.
    Some city folk came along a couple of years ago to ‘investigate’ the bells. I don’t know what they hoped to find, but they spent the first night up on the hills, looking at the old town’s location with some fancy cameras, recording themselves making excited voices about their discoveries. And they did it over and over to get a good take.
    Then, the next night they drove down to camp in Green Valley. I don’t know anybody who had ever spent the night in that haunted town. I still don’t. The next morning we found their cars and campsite abandoned. After some searching, we found some of their cameras lying amongst the weeds and the grass. And we found drag marks.
    Drag marks that led back to the old mine’s entrance.
    Locals say that the bells are going to keep on ringing, every night, until Jesus returns and redeems the lost miners. Some say that they’ll keep on ringing, one year for each lost man. All I know is that you don’t want to be in Green Valley after dark. I think those lost souls are sounding those bells to call everyone to come. Not to rescue them. They want revenge for being abandoned and forgotten.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. This week I had a prompt swap with Becky Jones, who supplied: Light from the rising sun crawled across the little clearing revealing…

    Perhaps a long-lost grave, with a sword? With that idea I went down the quest route…

    A wyvern was seen in the distance from Castle de Chivalry, the chief keep of the kingdom. This caused some consternation. Wyverns hadn’t been seen in the sky since they had been driven back over the Dark Mountains two hundred or so years ago.

    The Lore-Masters were sent to investigate the past encounters with the foul beasts. Within a week they reported back to the King.

    “… After the battle before the gates of de Chivalry the Knights of the Crown led by Sir Percival pursued them all the way to the passes over the Dark Mountains. There the wyverns made their last stand.

    “Sir Percival slew the last and mightiest of the wyverns, taking mortal wounds in the process. He was buried in a clearing near the battlefield, and his sword was left with him. According to the records, only the best of men can reclaim it. Many have tried, but none have returned.”

    The King considered the matter, and decreed that the sword of Sir Percival must be reclaimed. As a sword that had killed wyverns in the past, it would be a great morale boost for the coming conflict. But no knight could be spared, as the risks of them not returning were too great. So a group of squires would head out. Whoever returned with the sword would be knighted.

    Four squires could be spared for the quest: Hector, Julian, Laurence and Nicolas. The four were dismissed for their quest with all due ceremony, and departed on horseback from Castle de Chivalry.

    They headed north, along the road towards the Dark Mountains. It took half a day for the quartet to enter the woods that filled most of the territory between the Dark Mountains and the keep.

    The squires kept riding for most of the day, taking the necessary breaks for sustenance, for trips to the bushes, to allow the horses to drink and graze. They were just wondering when would be the best time to stop riding and make camp when they entered a clearing containing a castle.

    They rode up to the gate and requested a room for the night. This was granted.

    After taking care of their horses, the four squires were dined in the main hall.

    After the meal the Lord of the Castle showed the squires his treasure chamber. It was full of gold coins. “All this I will give to anyone who can count all the coins, and tell me how many there are.”

    The squires were shown to the guest chambers, and went to sleep.

    The following morning three of them gathered at the stables to saddle their horses. All of the squires had been tempted by the great wealth on offer, but only Nicolas had abandoned the quest to count the coins in the treasure chamber.

    The three remaining squires left the castle, and headed north, further into the woods.

    After a further day of riding north the squires reached another castle in another clearing.

    The squires rode up to the gate and requested a room for the night. This was granted.

    After taking care of their horses, the three squires were dined in the main hall. They were waited on by two women. One was beautiful, the most beautiful young woman any of the squires had ever seen. The other was rather plain by comparison.

    The Lord of the Castle introduced the plain woman as his daughter, and the beautiful one as her cousin, his niece. “My daughter I will only marry off to one who has proved himself worthy of her. My niece I will marry to any who is willing to commit to staying at this castle for at least one year.”

    The squires were shown to their guest chambers, and went to sleep.

    The following morning two of them gathered at the stables to saddle their horses. All of the squires had been tempted by the beautiful bride on offer, but only Laurence had abandoned the quest to ask the Lord of the Castle for his niece’s hand in marriage.

    The two remaining squires left the castle, and headed north, further into the woods.

    After a further day of riding north the squires reached another castle in another clearing.

    The squires rode up to the gate and requested a room for the night. This was granted.

    After taking care of their horses, the two squires were dined in the main hall. In the wall of the hall was a grated metal door.

    The Lord of the Castle informed them during the meal that the grated door was the entrance to a secure chamber, one that not even a wyvern could enter once the door was closed.

    The squires were shown to their guest chambers, and went to sleep.

    The following morning only one squire made it to the stables to saddle his horse. Both had been tempted by the safety on offer, but only Julian had chosen to pass through the grated door and close it behind him.

    Hector was given final instructions by the Lord of the Castle. “Ride north until you reach the standing stones. Make camp this side of the stones. Then at dawn on the morrow you will see what you seek.”

    Hector left the castle, and headed north, further into the woods.

    It was dusk before he spied the standing stones. Following the instructions he had been given he made camp.

    The following morning Hector woke as dawn filled the eastern sky. As the skies lightened he saw that the standing stones guarded the entrance to a small clearing.

    The sun rose above the horizon, and its light gradually lit up the ground within the clearing. As the light crawled eastwards it illuminated a grave in the centre. And for a headstone there was a metal cross – no, Hector realised, it was a longsword, point stuck in the ground, two-handed grip, in perfect condition.

    Hector made his way into the clearing. He knelt at the foot of the grave of Sir Percival. “Forgive me,” he whispered. Then Hector carried out his task. He got up, made his way to the sword, and pulled Wyvernbane from its soil scabbard.

    Hector then turned to the south and strode from the clearing, passing through the standing stones once more.

    Placing the sword carefully on the ground he broke camp, and saddled his horse once more. Then Wyvernbane was strapped carefully to the saddle – Hector wished he had a suitable scabbard for it, but he did not.

    Hector rode south all day, and as dusk fell he reached the clearing and the third castle.

    The Lord of the Castle met him at the open gate. Hector was welcomed back into the castle and dined in the main hall.

    After the meal the Lord of the Castle gave Hector a gift. A scabbard for Wyvernbane.

    Hector enquired after Julian. “He remains in the secure chamber. We keep him well fed, but until he regains the courage to leave, the door will not open while he lives.”

    Hector was grieved to hear this of a fellow squire, but could do nothing for him and went to bed.

    The next morning Hector saddled his horse, hung Wyvernbane in its new scabbard on his waist, mounted, and rode out of the castle.

    Hector rode south all day, and as the sun neared the western horizon he reached the clearing and the second castle.

    The Lord of the Castle met him at the open gate. Hector was welcomed back into the castle and dined in the main hall. As before he was waited on by the Lord of the Castle’s niece, but the Lord of the Castle’s daughter sat by his side and conversed with him all meal.

    The daughter was still very plain in comparison to the niece (by now married to Laurence), but was very intelligent. Hector decided to be bold, and asked the Lord of the Castle for his daughter’s hand in marriage. The Lord of the Castle granted his request.

    Hector enquired after Laurence. “He keeps to his marriage chamber. He no longer has any interest in anything beyond its doors.”

    Hector was grieved to hear that a fellow squire had so abandoned his duties to king and kingdom, but could do nothing for him and went to bed.

    The next morning at first light Hector made his way first to the castle’s chapel. There he and Helen, the Lord of the Castle’s daughter, were wed.

    Immediately following the wedding the married pair made their way to the stables. There Hector saddled his horse, hung Wyvernbane in its new scabbard on his waist, and mounted. While he was doing this Helen saddled her horse and mounted. The two of them rode out of the castle side by side.

    Hector and his new wife rode south all day, and as dusk fell they reached the clearing and the first castle.

    The Lord of the Castle met them at the open gate. The pair were welcomed into the castle and dined in the main hall.

    As a wedding gift and as a reward for returning with the sword, the Lord of the Castle gave Hector a bag full of silver coins, worth a small fortune. He also gave the pair use of a suitable bedchamber for their wedding night.

    Hector enquired after Nicolas. “He keeps losing count, yet will not give up. Every time he insists on starting his count again.”

    Hector was grieved to hear that a fellow squire was so desirous of great wealth as to forget all else, but could do nothing for him, and went to bed with his wife.

    The next morning Hector saddled his horse, hung Wyvernbane in its new scabbard on his waist, and mounted. While he was doing this Helen saddled her horse and mounted. The two of them rode out of the castle side by side.

    Hector and his new wife rode south all day. At noon they departed the woods. As the sun neared the western horizon they reached the gate of Castle de Chivalry.

    Hector was welcomed back with great joy. His great fortune at not only returning with the sword, but also with wealth and a beautiful wife (for out of her cousin’s shadow Helen was exceedingly beautiful) was remarked upon.

    The next morning the King knighted him Sir Hector, and he was given leave to bear Wyvernbane in the battles to come.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Cedar Sanderson left the puzzle piece…

    Running late, but not really late, just late enough

    A snippet…

    Harry looked at his cell phone. Okay, the party started at eight, and it was a little after nine now, and he’d be there soon. Running late, but not really late, just late enough. Everyone else would be there, have settled in and met everyone, and he could make his entrance. Probably quietly, although… perhaps he would make a loud entrance this time, and catch everyone’s attention? It was always interesting to think about it, but he would probably just slide in quietly, and see who he wanted to talk to, without making any particular fuss. That’s what he liked about coming late, no one was usually waiting to greet you, and you could just slip in and join the scene.

    Inside the house, they were waiting. One watched, carefully, from a high window, and warned them when he was coming. At which point, everyone pretended they were busily partying, paying no attention. At least until he came in, closed the door, and took three steps forward. Then they all turned, looked right at Harry, and lifted their drinks as they chorused, “Happy Birthday, Harry!”

    Harry was stunned. What? They were all looking at him. And now that they had shouted happy birthday at him, they were starting to sing. Oh, no, was it really? Yes, it was, wasn’t it? And they had caught him perfectly.

    Liked by 4 people

      • Imagine, if you will, your basic, bland chocolate chip recipe. Nothing fancy, no overrated Ghiardeli here. But real butter, and salt.

        Now add too many extra eggs to “make it better,” and the cookie has to be soaked in coffee so you don’t break your teeth trying to take a nibble.

        And there you have my grandmother’s cookies. (A wonderful lady, mind you, and I still miss her, but it was generally better when she didn’t try to bake or cook.)

        And after writing her into the latest WIP as a cheeky throwaway neighbor character, I now find myself turning her into a villain.

        I like to think she’s laughing, and maybe putting on a Cruella costume to glam it up.

        But hopefully, she’s not baking.

        Liked by 2 people

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