Week 29 of Odd Prompts

Writers often spout phrases proclaiming the sheer need to write. Creativity stoppered leads to the genie’s bottle exploded, after all – words splattered across post-its and whiteboards, fingers sore from frantic typing, muttering to oneself about plot twists and stubborn characters until spouses question sanity and the cat’s given up in disgust.

But is there also a responsibility to write, to share stories with a world that badly needs joy, and innovation in a world that desires but does not reward it? If not us, then who? Is sharing a weekly piece of our souls bravery? Or is that the height of hubris? And does it matter?

Besides, how else do we get any better? So here are your prompts for the week.

Cedar SandersonIt wasn’t really a love potionLeigh Kimmel
AC YoungA flautist’s enigma…nother Mike
Fiona GreyThe titanium princess held a secret in her spine.Cedar Sanderson
nother MikeThe small ivory elephant in his hand suddenly reared and trumpeted…Becky Jones
Becky JonesThe elves and pixies squared off against each other… again.Fiona Grey
Leigh KimmelBilly Joel “Miami 2017” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=coYwBvysy3QAC Young

Not feeling it? Forget to add one? New to the game and testing the waters? We don’t bite. So far, all the sea monsters are only in our imaginations.

SpareAn Optipessimist: Someone who is optimistic that (s)he will eventually master the art of pessimism.
SpareThe technical name was the Enlightened Borough of Ekaria Darendalekem, but everyone referred to it as “The City” – in hushed tones, and with a fearful check over the shoulder for the magistrates.
Spare“First, let’s get one thing straight. I am NOT a god.”
SpareThe day letterbombs became faxable.
SpareBilly was a race-car diver.

Perhaps it’s better to let creativity spill gently, as if a tiered and musical waterfall, or grasses blowing in an endless horizon. However you write it, can’t wait to read it in the comments.

Header image by Fiona Grey



  1. Two fer here.

    I spotted a prompt in the Week 27 Spare prompts. “The fireworks at the VA hospital brought on severe PTSD attacks in too many patients” A bit of research later and I got a start. But things didn’t progress as quickly as I had hoped, work at into my writing time and a few days stretched into a week, then longer.

    I was nearing the end over the weekend and was almost ready but got held up on the end – and more research. *sigh*

    When I saw the new prompts for this week I spotted one that I thought I could fit in the current work: Billy was a race-car driver. Okay, I had to stand it on it’s head to make it work, but I think it came out okay.

    Writing Prompt -Fireworks and Memories

    Liked by 2 people

  2. This week Leigh Kimmel supplied one of her song prompts, which cycled round to me: Billy Joel “Miami 2017”

    Reading the lyrics it seems to be about remembering a city that is (in the timeline of the song) no more, and which the singer watched come to an end. I took that theme and ran with it.

    “The sun rose bright and red,
    Waking us from our beds.
    Nothing to warn us today
    Was the day the waterfall came down.”

    Tears rose unbidden to my eyes as the lone singer sang a capella the first verse of “The Day the Waterfall Came Down”. The bar was silent, listening to the haunted lyrics set to the grief-stricken melody.

    I could have joined in. I had forced myself to learn the poetry by heart years ago, as an act of remembrance. I knew the tune so well I could hum it in my sleep. But I knew that my voice would break, that my own grief would overwhelm my singing. No, I let the lone singer sing the second verse alone.

    The bar stayed silent. There only a few present who had been there that fateful day, who remembered the terrible events. Most listeners were locals, but something held their attention, demanded their respect. The lone singer sang the third verse alone.

    This day was the only day of the year this song would be heard anywhere in this city. Today was the anniversary. Twenty-years ago today, Imperator Falls collapsed. Imperator’s View was destroyed, never to be rebuilt. The lone singer sang the fourth verse alone.

    Memories overwhelmed me. That day had dawned with no sense that anything was wrong. I had gone to school for my final exam. Three hours later I had come out, exams over for good. I and my friends went to the viewing platform – it would be our final chance to head up to see the falls together.

    Fortunately, we made it. It was only a few minutes after we had finished the climb when we heard a massive crack. Time slowed down. The edge of the cliff fell in slow motion into the valley below. A massive tide of water followed. I froze, I think all of us froze, not knowing what was happening, but full of fear.

    We learned later what had happened.

    The edge of the cliff was formed of a band of hard rock that was angled upwards. On top of it was a band of soft rock, which the Imperator River had eroded, to form the Imperator Lake. Below it was another band of soft rock, which formed most of the face of the cliff. The falls had eroded the soft rock of the cliff face, undercutting the hard rock at the top of the cliff. That day the hard rock had had enough, and the front section gave way, and fell into the valley below. But this lowered the level of the cliff, and so half of the water stored in Imperator Lake followed the rock down into the valley.

    It didn’t help. All we cared about was that the wave of water had flooded Imperator’s View with such force that most of the buildings were washed away. When the waters made their way downstream, there were no landmarks left. The tricks we used to point out our houses to each other no longer worked. We could have pointed to where each other’s houses had once stood and we wouldn’t have believed each other.

    All of our families were dead. Most of those who were down in the city had perished in the flood. Only a small portion survived.

    The planetary emergency services came and did their best to help, but there wasn’t anything that they could really do. All that they could do was find us somewhere to stay in other cities.

    I came back to the present. The lone singer was just finishing the sixth and final verse “… / Was the day the waterfall came down.”

    The song finished to silence. The entire bar just sat there. I sobbed silently, letting my grief at the events of that day come to the fore. If I had looked around I would have been able to tell which of the listeners were also from Imperator’s View, for they were also sobbing at their memories. The locals let us be, and I appreciated it.

    For me, tonight was all about wallowing in the pain of the day the waterfall came down. I had chosen this bar because it had scheduled a performance of the most famous of the memorial songs, composed to remember that day. I had bought a pint, and sat down to listen to the performance.

    Now that the song was over, I sipped my pint, slowly drinking it. I had no intention of drowning my sorrows – no, tonight was for me to feel them in full, so I limited myself to a single pint.

    I didn’t interact with those around me. The locals wouldn’t understand, and none of my fellow evacuees from Imperator’s View were interested.

    It would be about an hour before I would be ready to head back to what was now home. Tomorrow would be a work day, and I would be expected to put my grief back into a box for another year and be a professional. Tonight was all the time I had to feel the pain of the loss the day the waterfall fell, and I intended to take all the time I could to do so.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. AC Young brought in the musical issue…

    A flautist’s enigma…

    [flautist? Okay, double check… aha! Flautist is the British term, Americans make do with a simple flutist. Now, the enigma… ]

    [not sure where this came from, or where it’s going, but…]

    The first time Sharon heard the enigma playing, she couldn’t believe it. Her friend had asked her to help with a flute duet, and she had agreed. The pages of the music looked aged, but it was clearly a score for two, and looked interesting. So they picked their parts, and started working through the score. First Sharon played her part, then her friend played through her part. Then they stopped, grinned at each other, and with a quick hand wave, one, two, three, four… they started playing the piece together. The flutes sounded clear and haunting, and the harmonics and dissonance between the two parts was eerie.

    Then the enigma started playing. At least, they both thought it was another flautist joining in, playing a strange counter-melody. But when they stopped playing, the enigma also stopped. They looked around the music room, and at each other.

    “Did you hear someone else playing?”

    Her friend nodded. She looked spooked, because there really wasn’t anywhere in the music room for anyone else to hide. And the music had sounded as if it was being played just beside them.

    Sharon thought about it, and then said, “Okay, let’s try playing it again, and see what happens.”

    They started again. And, once more, the enigma joined in. After a few bars, her friend stopped playing, and the enigma also stopped. Sharon played for another measure, her flute sounding oddly lonely as it cried by itself in the music room, then she stopped.

    Her friend was shaking her head.

    “No. I’m not sure what is going on, but I am not going to play that piece anymore. I’m sorry, Sharon, but that is just too weird.”

    She leaned over, and picked up her flute case. She opened it on her lap, and quickly took her flute apart and put it away. Then she stood up and left.

    Sharon looked at the music, and wondered. In her head, she heard again the duet, with its harmonics and dissonant runs and ripples of music, and then the enigma joining in, with the strange extra voice. But…

    She put her own flute away, and carefully picked up the music. She thought she could find someone else to play a duet with her, and she would see if the enigma joined them again…

    [hum, that’s not too bad.]

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  4. I’m not completely happy with this, but I think it has potential if I play with it a bit more. I started this out as a bad pun story, but it feels too serious, so I probably need to change the ending.


    Prompt: The Day Letterbombs became Faxable

    It was ugly. Death usually is, but Dave Peterson had a special hatred for explosions. They reminded him too much of the nightmares he had brought home from Iraq. Like that one time in the market… He pushed the memory away. He needed to focus.
    The thing was, those kinds of things were supposed to happen far away, not in the middle of a lawyer’s office in downtown Phoenix. He sighed and looked up at the well-dressed man hovering nearby. “So, Mr. Jacobs, tell me again what happened.”
    “I really don’t know any more than I already told you. I was sitting in my office, refreshing my memory on a few wrinkles in the law for a case I’m working on, when I heard a loud boom and came out to find Miss Rodriguez, well… dead and the copier over against the far wall.”
    Dave looked around and spotted the remains of what appeared to be a fairly upscale combination copier/scanner/printer/and who knew what else these modern contraptions did over against the wall to the right.
    “I see. Do you have any idea what she was doing when the explosion went off?”
    “Not really. She is… well, was our secretary. She took care of our basic paperwork, answered the phone, made photocopies. You know. Normal tasks for a secretary.”
    “I take it the copier normally sat somewhere else?”
    “Yes. Right in front of you, actually.”
    Looking at where the little that remained of the secretary’s body lay, it was not a great leap to figure out what happened. The copier had somehow exploded, killing her, and throwing the device across the room. What had caused it to explode and why? Now those were the questions that he had been hired to figure out.

    After leaving the office building, he drove south down Central, then swung right, then left into the main library parking lot. Surprisingly, there was a space available, so he took it, then walked through the doors and over to the circulation desk. “Is Sarah available?” he asked.
    The heavy-set Hispanic woman behind the counter looked at him for a second, then picked up the phone. “Sarah, are you available for Mr. Peterson? Ok…. Ok… Thank you.” The lady hung up the phone and told him, “She’ll be right out.”
    “Thank you, Connie. You’re wonderful.” She laughed and shook her head. “Another weird case, Dave?”
    “I don’t know. Something about this doesn’t feel right.”
    “Which is why you’re coming to talk to Ms. Sarah.”
    “If anyone can give me a clue, she can. She thinks outside the box better than anyone I know.”
    “Outside the box? Some days, mijo, I’m not sure she knows there’s a box to begin with.”
    Dave nodded ruefully as a small strawberry blonde wearing a bright blue summer dress came out of the elevator and walked over. “Got an interesting one for me, David Peterson?”
    He smiled at her. “Hi, Sarah. I think so. Can we talk in your office?”
    She gave him a short, tight smile and led him back to the elevator. “Did you bring chocolate?”

    Sarah sat behind a desk covered with books, stacks of papers, and the bare minimum of computer equipment. She picked a Sees dark chocolate truffle out of the box in front of her and chewed absentmindedly while listening as Dave described the scene he had found in the law office.
    When he had finished, she said thoughtfully, “I doubt they would have called you if a bomb was in the copier. Which means they suspect dark forces were at work in this. Have you talked to Father Michael?”
    “Not yet. I wanted to know what you made of it before I called in the Church. I don’t go to that well if I don’t have to.”
    She smirked. “Don’t give me that. You and your former roommate get along far too well for that to be a concern.”
    “True. But I don’t like to call in those favors. He’s too busy with the work of the church, even if he was my battle buddy at one point.”
    Sarah shook her head. “You call him and he calls you when needed.”
    Dave shook his head, not exactly in denial. “So how did this happen?”
    “Honestly, I don’t really know. But if I had to guess… One, a bomb in the copier that the cops missed. Two, spontaneous conversion of a small part of the paper Miss Rodriguez was copying into antimatter. Three, some type of runic magic, though why she would be using the printer or copier for that is beyond me. I can think of a couple other possibilities, but those are the top three.” She paused as her mind started mulling it over. “I wonder if…” Sarah turned back to her computer. “Let me work on this a bit.” Dave let himself out as she lost focus on anything but the problem he had dropped in her lap.

    A couple days later, Dave walked into Mr. Jacobs’ new office. He looked up from his work and smiled. “Ah. Mr. Peterson! Have you made any progress?”
    “I think so. We have a possible method. Now we just need to figure out a motive. What is the nastiest case you’re working on right now?”
    “The Johnson divorce. It’s two college professors who are splitting up after 30 years of marriage. It’s about as ugly a case as I’ve seen in ages. We are representing the wife.”
    “Dr. Johnson. The renowned professor of mythology, folklore, and anthropology?”

    An hour later, Dave walked into Professor Johnson’s office. “Give it up, Dr. Johnson. I have all the proof I need. You tried to terrorize the office of the lawyer representing your soon to be ex-wife and ended up killing the secretary.”
    “You can’t prove a thing.”
    “I can see it right there on your computer. The runes that summon the spirit of fire and chaos. You emailed it over to the lawyer’s office to threaten them and it killed poor Miss Rodriguez when she printed it out. All I want to know is where you learned those runes.”
    “You’ll need a search warrant.”
    “Those who will deal with this don’t answer to American law. Or any earthly law, Professor. Using magic like that is one of the fastest ways to damnation that you could possibly find.”
    Dr. Johnson blanched. “Alright. I confess. I did it. I didn’t mean it to kill anyone, I just wanted burn the office down! In my research, I had discovered how to contact a demon and I made a deal to learn the runes. I didn’t mean it to get out of hand like that. I sent it to their facsimile machine. I thought it was going to go out at midnight, but apparently it got delivered at noon instead.”
    The private eye looked at him sadly and shook his head. “Go to St. Joseph’s. Confess your sins to Father Michael. Perhaps he can show you a path to redemption, before it’s too late.”

    Later that evening, Dave took Sarah to dinner. “Thank you for your help. You were spot on about all of it. As usual.”
    She smirked at him, self-satisfaction evident on her face. “All of it?”
    “All of it. The summoning runes, the printing, even the mistake with the time it was supposed to be delivered.”
    “And you’re sure there was nothing emailed? We don’t want that knowledge to get out.”
    “Yes. Just the fax, ma’am.”

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