Week 21 of Odd Prompts

Some weeks, a significant amount of effort is a bridge too far. A writing prompt is a voluntary forcing function – a way instead to bridge the gap instead, with a lilting merger between melody and chorus. What harm could one little prompt do, after all? It’s only a short story. Right?


AC YoungIt was a lot cheaper to commute to the space station from the planet’s surface than to live full-time on the station. The major downside was the length of the commute…Cedar Sanderson
Leigh KimmelAll night the storm raged. The next morning we woke up to a different world.AC Young
nother MikeThere was a snake in the trunk of the car.Fiona Grey
Fiona GreyIt did not take long to discover that we should have feared the daytime monsters, and welcomed darkness.Leigh Kimmel
Becky JonesThe rain pounded down, drowning out the sounds of fighting.nother Mike
Cedar SandersonIn the shimmer of the rising heat…Becky Jones

Not feeling it? Forgot to send in a prompt? Perhaps you’d prefer to draw a bridge instead. Regardless, we’ll get you sparked on creative ideas – grab a spare!

SpareWatch out for the low ceiling, it eats hats and hair…
SpareThis particular alien species sneezed spikes when startled.
SpareThe lands of Thyme were particularly confusing.
SpareSmoke on the water, a fire in the sky…
SpareKeep your eye on the sky, and you may trip over your own two feet…

Keep going, even if it’s just one inch at a time.

Header image by Fiona Grey



  1. It did not take long to discover that we should have feared the daytime monsters, and welcomed darkness.

    So.. my grammar and high school experience, huh? I am STILL bewildered at the dark-evil thing, as NIGHT was when I had PEACE and DAY was HELL.


  2. In this week’s prompt cycle I received Leigh Kimmel’s: All night the storm raged. The next morning we woke up to a different world.

    Possibly the storm had changed the physical geography of the area, but possibly the change was more metaphysical. Let’s see…

    “The first we heard about it was a short piece on the news. There had been an accident at the new Quantum Energy Powerstation near Carlsbad, New Mexico. Something about the quantum energy containment failing. An unexpected storm brewed above the site, and kept brewing. It spread, and spread. The rainclouds nearly covered the mainland US before it burned itself out over Carlsbad, but the storm kept going. It spread around the world.

    “The following evening the storm reached us. All night it raged. In the morning it moved on, but then the news reports came in. Unicorns had been sighted all across North America. I thought them to be hoaxes, but no, the world had changed forever.”

    The video recording came to an end, and Mr Smith turned off the TV.

    “The scientists never realised that the Quantum Energy that they were trying to tap for power was actually magical power, power that had been sealed away from mankind over a thousand years ago. When they tried to tap into it, they broke the seal and released magic back into the world. It was the sudden release of all this energy that caused the world-wide storm. Alongside the release of magic came the re-emergence of all the creatures of fantasy.

    “Now before we start your first lesson in ritual magic, a short run through the types of magical users that have developed over the past thirty years.

    “The first, and most common, type is the ritual practitioner, or ritualist. Ritualists have no innate ability to manipulate the magical energy, and use ritual to do the task for them. Experienced ritualists tend to be very precise, as any mistake can be disastrous. As a result many of the best magical teachers for a beginner are ritualists.

    “But do not underestimate a ritualist. Given enough time to prepare they can cast very powerful spells.

    “The second type is the ritual magician. These magicians can manipulate the magical energies, but lack the power and/or confidence to cast spells without the foundation and structure of ritual. They should seek to be as precise as a ritualist in their casting. They may be able to cope with a slight error, using their abilities to manipulate magic to correct the mistake, but only up to a point.

    “The third type is the free magician. These have the innate power and confidence to cast spells without using ritual. But the foundation of their skills is their knowledge of ritual, and they are frequently unable to cast freely any spells that they do not know how to cast using ritual. Only the very best free casters can cast spells independently of ritual knowledge.

    “Finally we have the paired casters. These pair with fantastic creatures such as unicorns, gryphons or dragons. These can cast spells using ritual, but most often cast spells freely with their pair. They have varying abilities depending on which type of creature they pair with. A unicorn will grant her pair great skills in protective spells, whereas a fire drake will grant his pair great skills in fire-based spells.”

    Most of the pupils were already fidgeting. Mr Smith introduced the class to Mrs Thames, the visiting ritualist who was going to teach the rest of the Introduction to Magic course. Then he made his way back to his desk in the front-left corner of the classroom and sat down.

    Mrs Thames started to explain the spell she was teaching this lesson – a simple ‘light a candle’ spell. Mr Smith kept an eye on the pupils as she did so – he’d assisted on this course for a number of years, and this was always the point at which the pupils were the most rowdy. As ever it intrigued him which pupils focussed intently on the instructions, and which didn’t – often children of ritual casters already understood the need for precision, whereas children of free casters were often less understanding; children of non-magic users could be either.

    As the explanation finished and the pupils started to prepare the ritual for the spell, Mr Smith reached out and started to stroke Spitfire, his gryphon pair.

    Now was the time when he had to concentrate. As a paired caster, he was primarily a free caster, and had significant knowledge of the associated theory. But the other side of the coin was that his knowledge of ritual theory was minimal – and the two sets of theory were not always consistent. This meant that he was a very poor teacher of ritual magic – which was why Mrs Thames was brought in. But his experience and confidence as a free caster meant that he could react swiftly should something go wrong – which those who were primarily (in this case solely) ritual casters could not.

    Mutters of irritation made their way to his ears. He ignored them. Mrs Thames was a very experienced ritualist, and like all such insisted on precision. A line just a little off-straight, a node just a little out of place, using one colour of chalk when another was required – all these and more could cause the spell to go wrong – sometimes horribly wrong. But most of the pupils at this stage didn’t appreciate that yet. Occasionally they would initiate the spell anyway – and that was when Mr Smith had to step in.

    More mutters of irritation. Mr Smith suppressed a smile. It was his experience that young children frequently thought that magic was exciting. It was only a matter of time before some of them experimented in an uncontrolled environment. Part of the purpose of this course was to persuade many of that type that magic was actually boring. And teach the rest that precision was essential. For any pupils that did catch the magic bug, even after this experience, there was a trainee coven in the town, as well as five more in the rest of the conurbation, and they were only too happy to teach beginner ritualists (and beginner ritual and free magicians).

    Now there were small flares of magic, as those whose casting had been cleared completed the circuit, and their spells lit their candles.

    Then a larger flare of magic. Someone had got impatient. Rather than a little spark which would light the candle, the misprepared spell set off a fireball. Mr Smith quickly rested his hand on Spitfire, and free-cast. The result was a contained funnel of wind that sucked the oxygen away from the expanding fireball, extinguishing it without adversely affecting the already lit candles.

    Emergency dealt with, Mr Smith sat back, and let Mrs Thames tell the perpetrator off.

    Fortunately that was the only problem, and the rest of the lesson went as smoothly as this type of lesson ever did. At the end of the lesson the pupils all blew out their candles, tidied up their work areas and left the classroom.

    Until next week – when they would probably have fewer pupils to look after (the pattern was for those who were no longer interested in magic to drop out over the first half of the course, with only those determined to get it right keeping going).

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Becky Jones pointed out the soggy fighters…

    The rain pounded down, drowning out the sounds of fighting.

    [hum, what kind of fighting? Hand-to-hand, or more militarized?]

    [a quick sketch from the magic school…]

    The student was gasping as they ran around the corner of the building.

    “Mr. Almario, come quick! They’re fighting again, and I don’t think they put up wards.”

    Mr. Almario bit his lip, and started running. This morning’s class had been on basics of weather magic, and if those idiots had started fighting without putting up wards…

    As he ran around the corner, one of them waved his hand in an invocation… drat it, that idiot had been reading ahead, they shouldn’t know that one yet.

    The clouds that had been gathering overhead responded, and the flood descended. The rain pounded down, drowning out the sounds of fighting. It was even hard to see who was out there through the pouring rain.

    Still, Mr. Almario lifted his own hands, and quickly sketched a small change. The rain turned purple, and… so did the students who were trying to get inside. Now he would know who had been out there at least. And he could give them all a lecture about the dangers of using magic without wards! Idiots. They could have had an acid rain that would have left them dissolved into puddles, or hailstones that broke everything.

    He walked inside, his own personal wards holding the rain off. This afternoon should be interesting. First, collect every student who was purple…

    [hum, okay… how about a less direct one?]

    Harvey looked up at the grey skies, and sighed. It looked like another rainstorm was coming. Then he looked around the trench where the company was waiting. It wasn’t much, but it kept them more or less safe when the bombardments started.

    Of course, that was when the artillery started firing. The whistle, thud, kaboom made them groan.

    And then the heavens opened up. The rain pounded down, drowning out the sounds of the fighting.

    Harvey had to admit, even if the trench was going to turn into a river of mud, the peace and quiet of the pounding rain was nice.

    [a moment in the life of a soldier, eh?]

    [sorry, running late again. So, a couple of fragments.]

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