Week 38 of Odd Prompts

Sometimes you get the itch to write, you sit down at the keyboard, hands poised, fingers ready… and nothing comes out. That’s where we come in, with a prompt to scratch that itch, and get the words started. You’ll find, I think, that once you have the fingers warmed up with a prompt, the rest of it will begin to flow. It’s priming the mental pump.

Cedar SandersonIce coffee goes down easier than hotPadre
AC Young“Well done, good and faithful servant.”Cedar Sanderson
Fiona Grey“What do you mean, I’ve been upgraded to a hurricane?”Leigh Kimmel
PadreThe setting sun painted a golden road across the water.Becky Jones
Becky JonesWhat exactly *is* a moonage daydream?nother Mike
Leigh KimmelSong “Wooden Ships” Crosby, Stilles and Nash version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Q3j-i7GLr0 Jefferson Airplane version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hIccZsURyLcAC Young
nother MikeWhen you wish upon a star…Fiona Grey

If you’d run dry without warning, and didn’t send in a prompt to oddprompts at gmail dot com, then we have spares for you to use. Let’s draw up the wellspring of your imagination and see what splashes out!

SpareThe servos whined as they moved the mouse, whose beady eyes glinted red in the diode lights
Spare“We will meet again.”
SpareThe honor and duty preserve the legend.
Spare“I didn’t think the unicorns were the type to pack up and leave when times got tough.”
SpareThere was an outhouse on the roof…

Don’t forget to link your response in the comments, or post it there if you haven’t got a handy blog. We will see you there!



  1. The header image dropped a line into my head.

    The spell did not go as expected. In fact, it went horribly wrong. Now he was trying to turn the pages of the ancient spell book with thick scaly fingers.

    Somewhere in here there had to be a reversal spell. Hopefully he could find it before his classmates woke up.

    ‘S all I got right now.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I also got distracted by the header image. The below ties into the world of my responses from Weeks 32, 26 and 21.

      [My response to being poked to follow.]

      Henry Gibson, Chemistry Professor, was stumped. His student, Arthur Alanson, a new free magician, had asked him a question he didn’t know the answer to. How did one control flowing water? Henry understood the context – Arthur would soon be assisting on an adventure course for youngsters and there was a danger of one or more of them falling into the river and getting in trouble – but didn’t have any knowledge of the sort of spells that would be required.

      Henry looked across the room to Amber Goldtalon, his fire drake pair. She was curled up on the tiles in front of the grate, her golden scales reflecting the light of the flickering flames behind her, but Henry knew from experience that she paid close attention to anything that went on in the Living Room. Amber lifted her head. “The Natural Magicien,” she intoned.

      Henry got up out of his armchair. He knew what Amber was requesting. Against one of the walls, next to the fireplace, was a large bookcase, full of tomes of varying age – some originals, some ancient copies, and some modern copies. Henry cast the small spell that unlocked the case, and he opened the glass panelled doors.

      Inside was his collection of magical works of reference – or more practically, Amber’s hoard of magical tomes. The Natural Magicien wasn’t a work Henry had ever felt the need to study, but then many of the works in the case were there because Amber had got her claws on them – and every single tome had been read cover to cover multiple times. Amber frequently requested that one of them be brought down in order for her to read it, just before Henry went upstairs to bed.

      Where was it? Ah, yes, top shelf. The work had been accredited to Aristotle at some point during the early Middle Ages, not that Amber believed the accreditation, but in the absence of better data on authorship it went on the shelves as if it was an Aristotelian work.

      Henry extracted the large work of reference, and placed it in front of Amber.

      Amber carefully used her talons to open the book, and then work her way through the pages until she found the information she was looking for. “Here. The section you’re after starts here” – Amber pointed with her right forepaw index talon – “and continues for about three pages.”

      Both Henry and Arthur knelt down in front of the book. Henry rotated it 180-degrees, as he couldn’t read the old script upside-down, and then gestured for Arthur to begin.

      The text was handwritten with a number of spell diagrams interspersed. Even without studying it too intently, Henry could tell that understanding the spells enough to cast them on demand would take some study.

      It appeared that Arthur felt that way too. “Could I please take this with me to study?”

      “NO!” Amber made her extreme displeasure at the politely worded request even more known by blowing a small stream of fire over Arthur’s head – not close enough to set his hair on fire, but Arthur still flinched. Henry didn’t flinch, but that was only through long experience of the means whereby Amber showed her displeasure, and even he felt the sudden heat of the flames despite being further away than his student.

      Henry cleared his throat – the agreed signal between caster and pair that Henry wasn’t trying to irritate her further, and that she shouldn’t snap pre-emptively. “I’m afraid this book has been claimed by Amber as part of her hoard. I’m sure you’ve heard stories of draconic possessiveness. They’re all true.

      “Amber won’t let this book out of this room unless she goes with it, and personally looks after it to ensure that it isn’t damaged or stolen. If you try to remove it otherwise, she will defend her hoard with tooth, talon and fire – but she’ll only damage you, not the book. My personal advice is that you don’t try.”

      Draconic possessiveness was certainly not exaggerated in the folk tales and stories. And it could cause much more trouble than it was worth. At one point, early in their relationship, Amber had claimed him as her sole possession (not that Henry had realised). She had got incredibly upset when he asked Fiona out, and even more upset when he asked her to marry him, and then even more upset once the wedding had taken place. It had taken over a decade, during which time he and Fiona had had three children, before Amber had learned to share him with his wife and family. Even now Fiona was somewhat prickly with Amber – not that Henry would ever have a quiet word in Fiona’s ear about it, for everyone (with the possible exception of Amber) knew that it was all Amber’s fault.

      Henry’s never spoken and never written advice about working with a jealous dragon was simple: If you have an alternative, DON’T!

      “My apologies, Amber.” Amber visibly relaxed – but she still kept both her eyes firmly fixed on the book in question.

      Arthur turned to look at both Henry and Amber. “It would seem I need to study this work in situ. Perhaps we could arrange such a session sometime next week?”

      Henry looked at Amber. She didn’t seem to have anything further to say – her authority over the work in question having been suitably acknowledged. “I think such a study would need to be held near a stream or river, for ease of practice. We’ll discuss the matter in private and see if we can come up with some arrangement.”

      Arthur nodded. Even if he hadn’t realised it, that was the best he was going to get for now.

      Arthur got up to his feet, as did Henry. Goodbyes were said before Henry escorted Arthur to the front door. Further goodbyes were said before Arthur headed home.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This week I was poked by Leigh Kimmel, who supplied: Song “Wooden Ships”

    The lyrics suggest things have gone horribly wrong, no-one being sure who’s won or lost a war, possibly a result of nuclear weaponry.

    What if nukes were fired a few years from now?

    It was probably going to be another boring shift on the Bridge of the ISS Numinor, or so thought Commander Patrick Lisburn, who headed up the crew of the station.

    The Numinor was an experimental space station. It had been built to test the technology that would be needed to enable humans to survive long-term beyond Earth. If successful it would initially be used to build bases on Mars, and then perhaps a long term voyage out into space.

    The Numinor had a crew of 450 (250 men, 200 women), mainly from the various NATO states, although a few were from other allied or friendly countries. The goal was for them to survive a year without resupply – but ground control was only short shuttle trip away should things go badly wrong in an unexpected manner.

    The station orbited the Earth once every five days, and was built with a central core connected by spokes to an outer ring.

    Artificial gravity was generated by spinning the station around the main axis, with gravity at approximately four-fifths Earth value for those in the outer ring. In the core the artificial gravity dropped to nearly nothing; for all practical purposes astronauts in the core were weightless.

    Patrick Lisburn made sure that he took a shift on the Bridge in the heart of the Core three times a week, to set a good example. As a general rule nothing happened.

    Today was not normal. The signal from ground control back at the Johnson Space Center suddenly dropped off. The radar signal showed a lot of missiles in the air around the Earth below.

    Patrick switched the switch, turning on the Emergency lights and the Emergency protocols. The senior crew he summoned to the Bridge.

    They figured it out over the next few hours. Someone (no-one ever figured out who – the records from Earth being destroyed, and the records from space being incomplete) fired one or more nuclear missiles. Others were fired in response. Then even more.

    Many struck and exploded. The USA, Russia, China, the UK, France – all the nuclear powers were completely wiped out. In a fit of pique someone had fired nuclear missiles at targets all over Africa, the Middle East, Asia, etc.

    When the dust settled, every major city on Earth had become a second Hiroshima. The radiation levels were so high that very little on the surface of the planet was safe for mankind to live with the exception of Antarctica. Even those areas which were safe currently were probably going to become unsafe as the radiation was spread around by wind and rain.

    Patrick took a deep breath. “We’re not going to have any more support from Earth. If anything goes wrong now we’re on our own. We’ve got nine more months of our mission left. Can we keep going beyond then?”

    Elizabeth Fitzwilliam, his second-in-command, responded “If nothing goes wrong we should be able to keep much of the plants going for significantly longer than the year. We’ll need to use some of the seed to replant the annuals, which we weren’t planning for, but can manage. Our menus will have to change, as we use up what we can’t replace. I’m sure there’ll be some complaints as a result.”

    “We need to plan for the very long term. If we can’t get back down to the surface any time soon, we’ll need to plan for the survival of the species.”

    Everyone looked at Henri Guillaume. He was known to be cynical and pessimistic, but this was more negative than his normal prognostications.

    “We’re not set up for that. Most of the crew have spouses on the surface – I suppose that’ll be had now.” Klara Schmidt paused, then continued “I’ll review the biology. I think we’ll need to be very prescriptive for a while on who can breed with whom.”

    “Very well,” concluded Patrick. “We’ll all do whatever research we think is needed, and we’ll meet back here on the Bridge first thing tomorrow morning.”

    A few days later, and Commander Lisburn, representing the Numinor, was on a conference call with the commanders of the Chinese and Russian space stations (combined crew numbers 30 – 20 men, 10 women).

    “… In short we will not be able to return to the Earth’s surface for at least five years, and large portions of the surface will be out of bounds for centuries. In practice the Earth will not be able to support any significant population for decades.

    “In order for the human race to survive we will need to breed in space. My team have been looking into the requirements, and we believe that if we combine our numbers we should be able to keep the species alive with minimal danger of inbreeding – as long as we’re careful and keep track of each person’s heritage. Alone the Numinor might be able to succeed but the addition of your personnel to the programme will significantly improve our chances of success. Independently of the Numinor, neither of your stations have the numbers to keep our species alive.

    “The Numinor can supply enough food to keep all our personnel (on all three of our stations) alive for at least a year. With careful planning we believe that this supply can be expanded. We hope that we can support a total population of between 1500 and 2000 in short order – but we’re unlikely to be able to support more than that absent a significant advance in a number of technologies.

    “Our probability of keeping the human race alive will be a lot greater if we combine our forces, up to and including potential cannibalisation of one space station to keep another running. Given the complete destruction of the governments down below, we do not see the need to continue to operate separately, especially when working together will have such potential benefits.”

    Patrick waited for the Russian and Chinese responses. It took a while, and it looked as if there were serious discussions on both stations while their commanders were on mute. But eventually both agreed to join forces with the Numinor.

    A three station committee was set up to run the “Save the Humans” campaign. Most of the members were from the Numinor (inevitably given the severe numerical imbalance between the stations), but key roles were granted to the other two stations to keep the peace. Commander Lisburn became the first among equals.

    Now the hard work began.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Becky Jones asked the key question…

    What exactly *is* a moonage daydream?

    [Google tells me that’s David Bowie’s movie! Maybe a book, too. Let’s see, what can we say…]

    [oho! And the song, too. Ziggy Stardust, spiders from Mars… y’a know, some of this looks like a frustrated sci-fi writer’s notes…

    Lyrics of the chorus, for the fun of it…

    Keep your ‘lectric eye on me, babe
    Put your ray gun to my heart
    Press your space face close to mine, love
    Freak out in a moonage daydream, oh yeah!

    Oh, yeah… how about a little article?]

    It was in the first age of space travel, when humanity first reached out to the Moon, that time we now call the moonage, that people started to think about the other planets as places where spiders and other fears might lurk. Indeed, one of the daydreams or nightmares of that age was that a UFO would land, and strange creatures would come out and demand, “Take us to your leader.” Even the comics of the time, those aging anime, had a fondness for Marvin the Martian, who worried about where his world shaking bang went…

    [let’s see. How about a student, struggling with homework?]

    Harry stared at the computer screen. Why did the teachers do this kind of thing? He knew he was outstanding in math, science, all the good stuff. Then they told him he had to take one of these classes! Where the teacher wanted you to explain history and stuff about rock and roll, of all things? So he had tracked the phrases down, Ziggy Stardust, spiders of Mars, and all the rest. But it just left him wondering. What exactly *is* a moonage daydream?

    Okay. Let’s see. What about this? He started typing, slowly. David Bowie was a key player in the rock and roll revolution, who opened the eyes and ears of his audiences with breakout songs like…

    No. He couldn’t do it. Not tonight, maybe never. Maybe he could run several articles through an AI filter and then see if it could generate a meaningful article for this assignment. Hey, it couldn’t be worse than what he would write.

    And he’d have the fun of playing with the AI filter, too.

    Now that sounds like a real modern daydream!

    [oh, that almost makes sense. Now why do I hear radar love playing in the background?]

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Cedar prompted me with “Iced coffee goes down easier than hot” this week. I went with a conversation between Dave Peterson and Father Michael, discussing some of their mutual background. One of these days I’m going to rewrite the story of what happened in Korea…

    “I have no idea how you can drink that, Father.”
    Father Michael shrugged. “Iced coffee goes down easier than hot, Dave. I think it’s in the way that the ice softens the bite and the bitterness.”
    “Your drink always reminds me of my ex-girlfriend’s soul. Cold, black, and bitter.”
    “Are you sure that isn’t yours, my friend?”
    Dave looked up at Father Michael, shook his head, then sighed. “Probably. You’re usually right.”
    Father Michael smiled. “You, on the other hand, always drink your coffee hot. Even on the hottest summer days in the middle of Iraq, you would always start the morning with a couple cups of hot, black coffee.”
    Dave smiled. “Yes. It just doesn’t taste right to get cold coffee that early in the morning.”
    “Do you ever miss the simpler days?”
    “Sometimes. I miss the days when we didn’t know what goes bump in the night. When we weren’t able to see how the enemy is moving in the world and how much we have to sacrifice to stop it. The days when we were simple infantrymen and our biggest worry was the insurgents blowing up our Humvee.”
    “I miss those days, too. I never felt the call to the priesthood in those days. I always believed I’d come home after my tour, find some cute girl back here, marry her, and settle down to raise a family. And yet, here I am, walking a very different path.”
    “Yeah, that night in Korea changed a lot of things. For both of us, I think.”
    “I don’t understand how you can not be bitter about your change of direction.”
    “Time, the grace of God, and an understanding of your call have a way of softening it and taking the edge off of it.” Father Michael looked down at his coffee and smiled.
    “I wish I had your certainty.”
    Father Michael shrugged. “You have your own path to walk. And you need that harsh bite in ways I do not. I think that’s why I’m called to this and you’re called to what you do.”
    Dave nodded contemplatively, then tossed back the last sip of his dark roast.
    “Same time, next week, Father?”
    “If God wills it.”
    Dave nodded, then got up from the table. “May God go with you, Father,” he told him.
    “And with you, as well, my friend.”

    Liked by 3 people

  5. […] My weekly prompt challenge at More Odds Than Ends came from Padre again. The setting sun painted a golden road across the water. My challenge, based on my Bowie madness and the fact that I saw the movie last week, went to ‘nother Mike: What exactly *is* a moonage daydream? He did a great job with it, so skip on over to More Odds Than Ends and check it out! […]


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