Week 44 of Odd Prompts

The times they are a changin’
Unless, of course, you live somewhere sensible that realizes we are no longer an agrarian society and also, a species that needs routines, so they don’t play around with clocks and disrupt an entire nation’s circadian rhythm all at once. Two times a year, even. If you like somewhere like that, treasure it. The rest of us will be over there, blearily clutching coffee mugs and blinking.

Cedar Sandersoncoffee, cocoa, tea…Padre
Fiona GreyNo one told the thief he had a bald spot. It was fine, until that moonlit heist…Cedar Sanderson
AC YoungOn a cruise ship, making its way serenely through space, an emergency alarm sounds. It is not a planned drill.Leigh Kimmel
Leigh Kimmel“The Boy in the Bubble” by Paul Simon https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uy5T6s25XK4nother Mike
PadreWhatever you do, don’t wake the cat up.AC Young
nother MikeIn the box of candy bars, one of them was a bar of gold…Fiona Grey

If you didn’t put in a prompt to be accounted for this week, no worries. This is why we have a bank of spares. And if you are the mystery contributor to such bank, we thank you for your kind charity.

SpareThe man snuck down the stairs, a glowing bottle in each hand, each step wildly exaggerated.
SpareThe puzzle brewing potion
SpareYou’ve got to pack a packet of chews, youse…
SpareThe new weapon oddly resembled small rocks. That the inventor was Stixon sealed its fate. The name, despite official objection: Stixon Stones.
SpareThe drunk in the alley waved, happily, as the vampire flew in…

After all. Some days there just isn’t enough coffee to jumpstart the writer. On those days, we offer prompts for the extra boost into making something happen. Don’t forget to post the response (or link to it) in the comments. And send in your prompts early and often!

(Header Image: Ancient Ruined Temple, art by Cedar Sanderson rendered with MidJourney)



  1. Padre supplied me with this week’s challenge: Whatever you do, don’t wake the cat up.

    When I was thinking about why the cat shouldn’t be woken up, I went down a few dead ends before remembering an “it worked until it didn’t” story. Mix that with a mythical big cat…

    Rose pricked up her ears. A sound within the house had woken her up.

    The lights were off downstairs and the curtains were closed, otherwise it would be possible to see that Rose was a large cat, only a little smaller than a fully-grown lioness. The base colour of her fur was white, and had many spots. These were of various shades of red, brown and yellow. Unusually amongst large cats her fur had a very pleasant, and persistent, smell.

    A herald of the middle-ages would have little difficulty in recognising her as a panther, but the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons had decreed that the likelihood of confusion with the modern melanistic understanding of the term was such that she had to be listed on her vet’s books as a Great Spotted Cat. Inevitably this caused confusion when Rose’s caster, Holly, tried to book her in for her annual check-up. (“I’m sorry, but we don’t have a panther on the books,” would often be the initial response from a receptionist who hadn’t dealt with heraldic panthers for a year, if at all.)

    More sounds. One or more person was coming down the stairs. Without turning on the lights first.

    Then a whisper. “Remember, we need to be quiet. Whatever you do, don’t wake the cat up. She’ll tell mom.”

    Rose smiled internally. She recognised the voice. It was Holly’s son, and presumably the other person sneaking about was her daughter.

    Rose didn’t open her eyes, and stayed still. If the young miscreants saw or heard her moving they’d head back upstairs, and their parents would be none the wiser.

    More sounds. The two children seemed to have reached the bottom of the stairs. A door opened and then a light came on. Rose risked opening an eye – it was probably the living room light, as light was coming into the kitchen through the frosted glass in the door to the hallway, and Rose didn’t think the pair would have turned on the hall light.

    Rose stayed still and kept listening. The sounds continued, but now they seemed to be from the same place.

    Time to investigate. Rose got up and padded silently through the house, using her excellent low-light vision to avoid the furniture in the shadows.

    She made her way through the open door between the kitchen and the dining room. Then she opened the door to the hall, it opening silently on its hinges. She passed into the hall, padded down it, and looked through the still-open door into the living room. The two kids were playing with their train set, their backs to the door.

    Rose slinked in behind them, and then with her head not that far behind asked “Are you supposed to be doing that?”

    The two children started, and turned around. Rose responded by making an ostentatious yawn, clearly displaying her large incisors. There was a time to be a sweet and cuddly large pet cat, and a time to be a vicious killer. This was the latter.

    The miscreants turned tail and ran upstairs, making a right racket as they went.

    Rose headed back to her basket.

    Her night wasn’t quite over. Holly came downstairs soon afterwards, and hunted out her panther pair.

    “Did you have to scare them that badly?”

    “I thought it was about time they learnt why no-one disturbs a panther’s sleep. Besides, they were sneaking about where they shouldn’t.” Rose smiled, before continuing. “Once I’m well-rested in the morning I’ll be back to large kitten mode.”

    Holly chuckled. “I hope so. Good night.”

    “Good night.” Rose settled down again, and was soon fast asleep once more.

    Liked by 2 people

      • Thanks. I’m not entirely sure where Holly and Rose fit into the main line of the stories I’m planning.

        Paired casters are rare, and I already have three based in the West Midlands, so I’m thinking they’re living somewhere else – perhaps a village outside of York (Rose may find that amusing as the panther was used as a symbol by kings of the House of Lancaster).


  2. I was prompted by Cedar today with “Coffee, cocoa, tea…” It would have fit Father Michael quite well, but I don’t want to write him tonight, so I went back to Lovecraft. I should probably just write a Lovecraft in the jungle story. This one could end up at the temple in the picture above…

    “Hey, Johnson. Haven’t see you around here in ages. What are you drinking?”
    “I’ll have a whiskey, today, Lou. I need something to drive the memories out.”
    “That doesn’t sound like you. You were always careful with your liquor. What’s been going on?”
    “Too much.” The blue eyes that caught the bartender’s glance were not the same ones as had been in the man’s head months ago. They had a haunted look as they stared unseeing into the depths of the back of the bar, one normally reserved for those who had seen the worst of the trenches.
    “I inherited my father’s business when he died, so I decided I needed to go inspect the plantations. I jumped on a plane south and followed the directions to where we grow our products.”
    “We’re reputable importers. We grow it all- coffee, cocoa, tea, rubber… You name it, we grow it, package it up, then send it north to sell here in America.”
    “It’s a good business and I had a great time in South America. But as I was finishing up my business and getting ready to head home, a rumor reached me of a discovery in the jungle. Someone had found an ancient temple, lost for eons. There is nothing that would have piqued my interest more. A man of my tastes needs to track these things down.”
    “But I shouldn’t have gone. God. There are somethings man is not meant to know buried in those jungles. Things that should stay hidden.” He paused and slammed his drink back. “I shouldn’t have gone…”

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Using Cedar’s picture as my prompt.

    Jake stood with his arm around Serena’s shoulder. He stared up at the looming edifice. Temple seemed likely. It seemed like it was made for giants, but the entrances and stairs that he could see appeared to be no more than about seven or eight feet tall. So, big, but not built for twenty-foot high monsters like the entire thing seemed to be.

    “How in hell did they build this thing?” Serena breathed.

    “I have no idea,” Jack whispered. He didn’t know why he felt the need to whisper, but something primal in the back of his head warned him not to make any loud noises or disturb the peace of this place… a very gothic looking place, but peaceful nevertheless.

    “Jake, I don’t think we should be…” Serena stopped. A new light pierced the gloom surrounding the temple as a door opened near the bottom. Jake held his breath.

    A tall, thin figure stepped out of the door and backlit by the diffuse light surrounding the temple, walked gracefully down a set of stairs and toward Jake and Serena.

    “Well, we’re not going anywhere now,” Jake murmured. Serena shook her head.

    The figure stopped in front of them and Jake could see that it was human in appearance, if taller than the average human, and possessed of pointed ears. He heard Serena’s sudden indrawn breath and knew exactly what she was thinking.

    Don’t say it, he thought. Please don’t ask him if he’s an elf.

    Fortunately, Serena didn’t voice the question he knew was uppermost in her mind.

    The man – Jake just knew the individual standing in front of him was male – stretched out a hand.

    “Welcome to Sarmir monastery. I am Fariyah. You are just in time for the evening meal. Will you be staying with us for the night?”

    “Uh… um, hello. I am Jake and this is my wife, Serena,” Jake said, taking the offered hand. He was relieved to find it felt like a human hand. “We were exploring this planet with our team. We were unaware there were any inhabitants. We’re sorry we disturbed you.”

    Fariyah gave a small bow. “No, we have not informed the Galactic Mapping Center of our presence. We do not wish to become a travel destination. However, we welcome all who discover our retreat on their own. We only ask that you do not disclose our presence when you leave.”

    “Oh. Um, how long has the monastery been here?” Serena asked.

    “Over seven hundred years, my lady. If you both would come with me, I will be happy to discuss our history with you over the evening meal.” Fariyah held out a hand back towards the stairs he had come down.

    Jake and Serena looked at each other. Serena shrugged and turned back to Fariyah. “That sounds delightful, thank you.”

    Fariyah gave another small bow and led them into the temple.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Leigh Kimmel played that jukebox…

    “The Boy in the Bubble” by Paul Simon https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uy5T6s25XK4

    [whew, what a song! Those lyrics… paul simon the boy in the bubble lyrics https://g.co/kgs/JYreiV ]

    It wasn’t all that long ago,
    My grandmother said to me,
    A long distance call means someone has died.
    So she hated to hear someone saying, “We’re calling from …”

    But today? Hey, the phone plays that funky little tune,
    And our friend in Philadelphia calls to talk about the weather,
    Or our friend in Kyoto calls to ask what’s new,
    And we worry if we haven’t heard from them.

    Long distance? That means you need to think about the time zones, and
    Try not to call in the middle of the night or work.
    But not much more any more.

    [burp. That’s not very helpful…]

    [Maybe a free response to the verses and chorus? Why not?]

    In the days of miracle and wonder, a long distance call, a slo-mo camera, we saw it all. That day.

    When the sun beat down on the soldiers by the side of the road, walking. And there was a flash, shop windows crashed, soldiers died. The baby carriage, that innocent buggy, carried a load of grief, wired to a radio. And somewhere, hate pushed the button.

    Christmas days, when wise men looked to a star, leading them onward. Days of miracle and wonder. And a baby lying in a manger, crying for those who would praise his name.

    The wind picked up the dush, carried it across the world, and dropped it, on children, on families, and on dirt where vegetables would grow, killing those who ate it. Birds with weak eggs, insects dying too soon, that circle of life, torn open and bleeding.

    The days of miracle and wonder. Calling to a star? Wait for an answer to a prayer.

    Jump shots, arm shots, everyone believe in the magic of medicine. And yet, children die, old men cry, women sigh. Sometimes the magic isn’t enough.

    Lasers carrying data, financial news turning the corner, who knows what millionaires and billionaires want?

    Ponder the days of miracle and wonder. Today and everyday.

    [Hum, that’s a bit cryptic… but it’s late, so that’s what you get!]


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