Somewhat astonished that it’s week ten already. This year seems as impatient to be over as we are to have it pass. In spite of it all? Create. Make something, and defy entropy! If you’re having trouble getting started, well, that’s what prompts are for.
|AC Young||The Rat-Runner docked at the orbital space station.||Fiona Grey|
|Ray Krawczyk||“My God. It’s full of dogs.”||Becky Jones|
|nother Mike||When the policeman opened the saddlebag on the motorcycle, there was a skull inside…||Cedar Sanderson|
|Fiona Grey||“But I don’t want to get eaten by the tentacle lady.”||AC Young|
|Becky Jones||When the chef said you could travel the world through food, he wasn’t just being poetic. The dishes he produced actually transported you to their country of origin.||Ray Krawczyk|
|Leigh Kimmel||You see the video for a new cover of a song from your teen years. You’re astonished to recognize in it information about something you’re looking for.||nother Mike|
|Cedar Sanderson||At the end of things, there is a beginning||Leigh Kimmel|
If you didn’t send one in, we don’t mind. Pick a spare, and then come back and show us how you’ve defied the winding down of the universe by swimming upstream powered by imagination.
|Spare||They were dropping DDT and spraying LSD|
|Spare||The string quartet played Winter in the midst of spring.|
|Spare||Somebody pushed the old woman in her wheelchair down the stairs…|
|Spare||The first blueberry squall of the season was an event to remember.|
|Spare||Welcome to the Hotel Dasvidanya, such a lonely place…|
|Spare||The funeral really started when they played Pop Goes The Weasel and the coffin lid swung back…|
See you in the comments, where the responses happen, and perhaps we can drown out the sorrows of the world in tales and art.
The spare prompt about the funeral and pop goes the weasel reminds me that I need to specify the music being played at my service and a closed casket.
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And now the spares are giving *me* an earworm!
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Those earworms keep singing in my head…
If you’re looking for suggestions, this would be a good one for a funeral… my dad used to sing this to us! Did you ever think when the hearse goes by… https://youtu.be/ZJppqS8uDyQ
My sisters and I used to sing the chorus of that song when we were kids. Along with “Great green gobs of greasy grimey gopher guts…”
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The worms crawl in, the worms crawl out…
Plenty of borscht at the Hotel Dasvidanya…
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Back in 1991, at the end of the Gulf War, there was a “Hotel California” parody called “Hotel El Rashid.” I’ve never been able to find it since then.
Fiona Grey and I had a prompt exchange this week. She supplied: “But I don’t want to get eaten by the tentacle lady.”
It sounded like the sort of thing a small boy would say, so I went down that route.
Mrs Octavia Foot was a widow. She lived in the last house on the City Road.
Her husband had died some forty-odd years ago. Since then she had lived alone, her only company at home being her pet octopodes in their various tanks.
She didn’t keep her obsession with the tentacled creatures to herself. Whenever she went out, whether to the shops or for some other purpose, she always wore a top with an octopus printed on the front, or a jacket with an octopus on the back. Naturally the kids of the village had nicknamed her the tentacle lady.
This Saturday afternoon leaflets were being stuffed through letterboxes all around the village. The local church was advertising its Lent services. City Road had been allotted to Edward Hancock, and he and his mother were working their way to the edge of the village.
Only one house was left, but Edward was strangely reluctant to approach it.
“You have to finish the job,” his mother cajoled him.
“But I don’t want to get eaten by the tentacle lady,” came the higher pitched than normal reply.
“And where did you get that idea from?”
“Gregory said that she takes stray pets off the street and feeds them to her octopus. Felicity said that that’s not all, she eats any stray children she can find.”
“I’m going to have to have a quiet word with their parents aren’t I?” Edward’s mother mused. “Fine, I’m going to deliver the leaflet in person, and you’re coming with me.”
Belinda Hancock took a firm grip on Edward’s hand, and walked boldly up the garden path. Edward was dragged behind her, cowering in her shadow, wishing he were heading anywhere else.
Belinda rung the doorbell, and about half a minute later the front door opened.
“Good afternoon Mrs Foot. We’re delivering Lent service leaflets.”
“Thankyou Belinda,” said her former primary school teacher, long since retired. “And who is this?”
“This is Edward. He’s a little scared of you. It seems that there’s a nasty rumour going around.”
Octavia chuckled. “Kids will be kids. Would you like to come inside for a cup of tea?”
“We’d love to, although I think Edward would prefer some squash.”
“Of course, I’m sure I’ve got some in the cupboard.”
Octavia backed into the house, and led the way in. “The living room’s through the door on your right.”
Belinda led the pair into the house, Edward following very reluctantly. She let his hand go once they were in the living room and sat down on the sofa.
Edward didn’t know what to do with himself, so he looked around the room, and spotted the tanks – one on each wall. Intrigued in spite of himself he walked over to the nearest one, and observed the octopus therein.
By the time Mrs Foot had returned with a tray, two cups of tea and a glass of squash, he was entranced.
“I see you’ve spotted my Ruby Octopus. They’re fascinating creatures aren’t they?”
Edward merely nodded.
By the time that Belinda and Edward said their goodbyes to Octavia, Edward had lost his fear of Mrs Foot and her octopodes. He wasn’t going to badger his parents to visit the tentacle lady any time soon, but he wouldn’t resist another visit.
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Applause, applause! Very nice. However, I do have a question? My American background says squash is a vegetable, so I’m wondering what kind of drink squash is? This is probably one of those little differences between English english and American english…
Probably. Over here, squash is a fruit juice-based drink. It’s sold as a concentrate, which is then diluted with water to taste. Nowadays there’s a wide variety of fruits and combinations on sale, but without reference I normally think of it as orange squash.
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Aha! I think most Americans would just say juice, orange juice, something like that. Fruit juice. Thanks!
[…] This week, AC Young and I traded prompts. He explained a young boy’s fear of the octopus lady, and I received the Rat-Runner. An excellent gift! […]
Oh, yes! And now for the voyages of the good ship Rat Runner and Izz! What fun!
And my response to ‘Nother Mike is up. https://www.cedarwrites.com/2022/03/15/odd-prompts-a-knocking-cometh/
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Oh, ho! So the policeman was a delivery man! And then… very nice!
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Cedar had to go and submit at the eleventh hour. So, I was cornered.
This week’s prompt was submitted by Becky Jones.
When the chef said you could travel the world through food, he wasn’t just being poetic. The dishes he produced actually transported you to their country of origin.
Restaurant critic John Gilder, of the New York Herald (The Paper of Permanent Record), was shown to his table. He preferred to make his reservation for one under a pseudonym. Today’s table name was Art Deco. The hostess scurried away.
The waiter arrived in twenty seconds. Well enough within the minute he allotted restaurants to provide attendants. Prompt, but not pushy. The waiter greeted him, setting a basket of warm rolls, a glass of ice water and handing him a menu, while describing the specialties of the day. Gilder never ordered the specials. That was how restaurants got rid of food before it went off.
The vinyl clad menu had a logo at the top of the pages inside. “Let our food transport you on a journey of discovery!” Gilder raised a suspicious eyebrow. As if. He looked over the menu. The appetizers and salads were run of the mill fare, probably out of a freezer and straight into the microwave. He had no doubt that the salads came from a commercial distributor, ready to eat and were re-plated.
In the seafood section he spotted the national dish of Bahamas, cracked conch with rice and peas. He fondly recalled a long-ago trip to the island nation. He had savored that dish made locally. Well, he would see if this little dive restaurant could equal the quality of the dish he had so enjoyed. He doubted New York could provide fresh conch needed to make a seafood dish explode with flavor. If it didn’t, he would take great pleasure in slapping them down in his weekly review.
His order arrived promptly, the conch fritters steaming, and golden brown. The rice and peas had baked in the tomatoes they had cooked with and their steam carried a slight hint of bacon. He speared a fritter, and dipped it in a lime infused paprika aioli served with the meal.
It was amazing.
He tucked into his gustatorial indulgence, ignoring the stale air stirred by the ceiling fans being replaced by gentle breezes. An increasing sound of surf rose in volume as the chatter of fellow diners diminished.
As the last bite was consumed, he looked around and found himself in an unfamiliar beachside dining establishment.
Questioning the restaurant staff in a rising panic, he discovered that when the chef said you could travel the world through food, he wasn’t just being poetic. The dishes he produced actually transported you to their country of origin.
He wandered the streets of Nassau. Did the US have a consulate or embassy in The Bahamas? He didn’t know. He was the restaurant critic, not the travel writer!
Eventually, he fell asleep on the beach above the high tide line.
And awoke in his apartment, in his own bed.
He was beside himself. How did food create such magic? He had to know. He was frantic until the restaurant opened at eleven. He barged inside and demanded to speak to the chef.
The chef, one Randolph Carter, had an impressive CV. He had studied at the Alhazred culinary institute under chef emeritus Dr. Marinus Bicknell Willett. Once there, he had worked at the Arkham Club and the Dunwich Hotel before deciding to embark on his own venture. While his establishment, The Whateley House was modest, he hoped that Gilder had found the food please. Carter was counting on a good review to drive trade to his restaurant.
Gilder demurred, but promised to try again over the next week to see that his first experience was not a fluke.
He went to the Whateley House again on Tuesday and ordered the Stegt Flaesk with potatoes and parsley sauce. He wandered the streets of Copenhagen until he took room at a hotel, again, waking in his own bed.
On Wednesday, he selected the Romazava, never having been to Madagascar. As he had read the spices left his mouth tingling and he had to wipe his mouth repeatedly to keep from drooling.
On Thursday a bowl of pho allowed him to wander the streets of Saigon.
On Friday, he enjoyed flying fish and okra and found himself in Bridgetown, Barbados.
On Saturday, Chef Carter came to his table, and politely inquired when he could see a review of Whateley House in the paper. Gilder demurred, insisting he had to assure his readers that the quality of the food was consistent.
Clouds gathered on Carter’s face, but vanished a second later. He promised to bring out an off-menu specialty for Gilder’s enjoyment.
Ten minutes later, the waiter brought out a plate of calamari. Gilder was a bit let down. He couldn’t think off hand where calamari might take him. Someplace in the Mediterranean was his guess.
Somehow, Carter had outdone himself. The calamari was tender to the tooth. None of the rubbery consistency substandard chefs prepared.
Unnoticed to Gilder, the pressure increased in the room. The other diners disappeared and the angles in the room became wrong. When the last of the tentacle sections was finished, he looked around and was surprised to find that he was under water, yet somehow still breathing. His table had disappeared and he was seated on a stone bench at an altar. An octopus shot through the room on a water jet. He looked around and noticed eight doors spaced equidistant around the perimeter of the round room. His altar was in the center.
Right before his eyes, chef Carter appeared and spoke. “I wanted to make certain I serve only the freshest fare for he who I serve.”
As if that were a cue, tentacles exploded into the room from each doorway and arrowed toward the altar. Gilder tried to throw himself out of the way, but constrained by the water his movement had that nightmarishly slow quality. Half of the tentacles took hold of him, pulling in different directions.
“I’ll make sure to warn your replacement to not let the review linger too long before publishing,” Carter said.
As the tentacles tore their prize apart, a cloud of blood obscured the altar.
Sometimes, procrastination hurts! Very nice!
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Oh that is deliciously creepy!
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[…] 10 in the third year of More Odds Than Ends prompts. This is pretty damn cool. I have gotten so many ideas for stories from these prompts and I’m […]
And now mine is up on my LiveJournal at https://starshipcat.livejournal.com/1115212.html. It’s a very rough sketch of the ending, and I’d need to do a heck of a lot of research to get to a finished work, but even if I don’t, I have some idea of a major turning point in that character’s life.
Leigh Kimmel dangled the bait…
You see the video for a new cover of a song from your teen years. You’re astonished to recognize in it information about something you’re looking for.
Good golly, Miss Molly… songs from your teen years? Hum…
Henry couldn’t seem to figure out what was wrong with the new software for his smart door. He’d gone over the decision trees, the triggers, and the actions himself, carefully. But the darn thing kept opening from time to time apparently at random. What was setting it off?
Then he saw the video on his smartphone for the new cover of that old chestnut, we’re off to see the wizard. He enjoyed it, but something in the background… wait a minute, there it was! Of course, he should have known! Drat, of course.
It was the man behind the curtains! The door was reacting to the man behind the curtains! Naturally.
[well, that seems pretty silly…]
[maybe something a little darker…]
Jim loved watching the videos for new covers of old songs. But he was kind of worried today, because Angela was supposed to have called when she got to Europe, but for some reason, she hadn’t called yet. Ah, well, he’d see what their favorite group was doing. Oh, that’s right, they had a new one coming out.
A few minutes of searching and following links, and he found it. Oh, man, you have to be kidding. Don’t sit under the apple tree? That’s one of those real oldies, isn’t it? Oh, well, let’s see what they’ve done with it…
He started watching. Wow, someone did a real job on the background video. Lots of people, marching along… Wait.
He stopped the video, and backed it up a little bit. Then he started it again.
That… That was Angela. But… her dress was torn, and she looked totally destroyed. What the heck…
He played the video several times, stopping it, yanking a screenshot and enlarging it, trying to understand. But no matter what he did, that was Angela. Marching with the others, as if someone had forced them all to march somewhere.
Then he started crying…
[Oh, that’s dark…]
[drat, out of time… oh, well, we shall leave the other mysteries of what secrets wee hidden in the videos for another day…]