Week five! Already the year is slipping by, and with it, creativity builds. Whether it’s building good habits, finding inspiration, the desire for feedback, or just general camaraderie that you’re seeking, find it here at More Odds Than Ends. Want to play? Send in a prompt by Tuesday evening to firstname.lastname@example.org. Give one, get one – and if you want to test the waters instead, put “spare” in the subject line, or grab one from the list below, refreshed each Wednesday.
|AC Young||The boxes of stuffed toys were awaiting delivery.||Zoe|
|David Wyman||Sugar and spice and everything nice? Yeah, right…||AC Young|
|Zoe||For the love of all that’s holy, DON’T. EAT. THE YELLOW. SNOW.||nother Mike|
|Becky Jones||The tiny garden was a miraculous patch of green amidst the piles of snow.||Padre|
|Padre||The reward for a job well done.||Leigh Kimmel|
|Leigh Kimmel||They forbade us to even refer to them by name, a restriction so obnoxious it deserved to be ridiculed by being obeyed in the most absurd fashion possible.||David Wyman|
|nother Mike||There were bullfrogs in the bathtub.||Cedar Sanderson|
|Cedar Sanderson||That’s when that spa showed up. You know, the one with the cephalopods.||Fiona Grey|
|Fiona Grey||The everyday purposes of megalithic structures were finally revealed to the modern world when…||Becky Jones|
And here are your spares.
|Spare||The monkeys stole your shopping bag? That’s what monkeys do…|
|Spare||“It’s a lanthanide, not an actinide.”|
|Spare||Remember the… what was it again?|
|Spare||Driving a bus full of refugees, and stopping at a roadside rest stop…|
|Spare||Using Job recruiting forms to find the gang’s next target…|
Don’t forget to post your creations in the comments! See you next week.
Header image by Fiona Grey
I was planning on picking up one of the spares this week, but found myself in the prompt list.
I received David Wyman’s prompt: Sugar and spice and everything nice? Yeah, right…
Sounds like something looked like it tasted/looked perfect, but things were a lot worse underneath.
William, the Lord of the Westlands, rode with his retainers. He had heard rumours that a unicorn had migrated into the mighty Westwoods, and was intending to hunt it down.
Not even the king had a unicorn horn as a hunting trophy. To obtain one as a symbol of his hunting prowess would give him and his Lordship great status and pride. He would become first amongst equals, and possibly even strong enough to unseat the king (not that he discussed the possibility with anyone – if the king heard even a rumour of his plans, the king would execute him).
The group made their planned overnight stop, an inn on the edge of the Westwoods, where the main trade road entered the woods.
William swiftly commandeered the entire inn for his party. Any merchants who arrived later would have to find alternative accommodation – not ideal, but a unicorn horn was preferable to income from merchant taxation.
William and his closest retainers headed into the main room of the inn and ordered a meal – the best the inn could provide. (The remainder of the group were tasked with stabling the horses and ensuring that the steeds were all well fed. They would eat later, from whatever the inn had left.)
An hour later the meal was served. William was delighted to have an extra-special bowl of stew all to himself.
William’s food was delicious. The venison was lovely and tender. It was spiced to perfection. The vegetables were lovely and soft. The mushrooms were extremely tasty – almost as good as the ones he’d tasted at the king’s court the last time he’d been invited to visit.
William scoffed the lot. He was just about finishing mopping up the last of the sauce with his hunk of bread when there was a commotion outside.
A couple of his lesser retainers, William couldn’t remember their names, dragged in a middle-aged lady. William recognised her instantly, even though he hadn’t seen her since she was around fifteen.
The lady was Elsa, the eldest daughter of the last Guardian of the Westwoods. He had been found guilty of treason by the king, and as punishment all of his family were sentenced to death, with the Westwoods handed to the Lord of the Westlands as part of his domesne. Elsa was the only member of the family to escape the death sentence.
William raised himself to his feet. “Elsa of the Westwoods, you have escaped justice for too long.”
Then William issued the order. “Take her outside and execute her. String her from the nearest tree as a warning to all.”
“That will be the last execution you order.”
William held up his hand. Elsa’s conviction intrigued him. “Explain yourself,” he ordered.
“Revenge for false testimony is a dish best served hot.”
William was furious at such a dismissive response, even if he had engineered the false testimony that resulted in her family’s deaths. “The only thing that matters here is that the king signed your death warrant. Explain yourself.”
She laughed. “You enjoyed the mushrooms I assume. Do you know what they were?”
William didn’t have a clue where this was going, but didn’t want to admit to ignorance before his men. “They were delicious. That’s all anyone needs to know.”
She laughed again. “They’re called ‘False Royal’. They look almost the same as the ‘True Royal’, both in the wild and after being picked. By all accounts they taste very similar.
“Only skilled and observant pickers can tell the difference between the False and the True in the wild. Only skilled and observant pickers can tell the difference once they’re picked. No-one can tell the difference once they’ve been cooked – unless they can use magic.
“But the False Royal is poisonous. And it leaks its poison as it cooks, so everything it touches is tainted. Every spoonful you ate of your stew poisoned you more and more. I cooked for you enough False Royals to kill ten men, and you ate the lot.
“You won’t last until midnight with that much of the stuff in your stomach.” She smiled a very cold smile.
William didn’t believe her, so he simply ordered his men to execute her as per his previous orders.
Nonetheless William woke up later that night in his commandeered bed in agony, and didn’t see the dawn.
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Oh, she got him! Very nicely done!
Becky Jones prompted me with “The tiny garden was a miraculous patch of green amidst the piles of snow.”
“How does she do this?”
The tiny garden was a miraculous patch of green amidst the piles of snow. The flowers grew in thick patches, a rainbow of colors poking their heads above the green colored ground cover.
“Magic, I think. You’re right that it should be far too cold for these right now.”
“I mean, why would she expend magic on something this… ordinary?”
“Because I think it’s pretty,” a voice replied from behind them.
The two teenagers spun around, blushing as they realized that their host had quietly come up behind them. The lady of the manor gave them both a warm smile.
“Or, more to the point, I find it beautiful. And beauty is something that we can definitely use a lot more of. It is a reminder that even in the midst of the desolation of winter, life still goes on and we can find things to appreciate, even if we have to expend some effort to keep them.”
“But, milady, it seems unnatural. Flowers are supposed to be a thing for spring and summer, not winter.”
“It is unnatural. That is what magic is, is it not? The ability to do things that go against nature. On the other hand, it doesn’t take that much effort and it allows us to beautify our table at any time of year. Besides. It’s good practice for me.”
One of the two girls looked back at her and smiled. “That makes sense. Can you show me how you do this?” she asked shyly?
The older woman smiled. “Of course! See, what you do is…” Their heads bent together as she demonstrated the workings that kept the flower garden warm and growing, no matter the temperature.
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Ah, the little things in magic! Good!
I like it! It’s what I had in mind when I thought about it.
[…] This week’s More Odds Than Ends prompt came from Cedar Sanderson: That’s when that spa showed up. You know, the one with the cephalopods. […]
Oooo! Somebody else in my bathtub! Yikes! And then…
Sorry mine’s so late!
The boxes of stuffed toys were awaiting delivery, and the young girl couldn’t help but peek. Afterall, she had been a good girl this year, and at the top of her wishlist sat a beautiful doll. It had hair that could be brushed and braided; eyes that, when horizontal, would close. She had been waiting and waiting for this doll—all the cool girls at school had one. If only I could have one, too. Then, I could be just like them.
However, the girl’s mother worked hard day after day, and yet they were still considered “poor”. The little girl talked often of this wanted doll, and all her mother could do was sigh. Her mother knew that it simply wasn’t possible to afford one. The girl was left to dream and dream that one day, this doll would be her’s.
The girl’s eyes popped open, and she sat up eagerly in bed on Christmas Morning. After rushing to awake her tired mother, the girl ran downstairs and sat in front of the small tree. There were very few gifts, but one in particular looked to be the shape of a certain doll that had appeared in the girl’s dreams that night. As her mother sat down with a warm cup of tea, the girl tore open the wrapping paper to find a worn out rag doll with x’s for eyes and string for hair.
The girl couldn’t hide her disappointment, and the feeling carried onto her mother, who knew that the old doll wasn’t perfect, despite the hours of labor she had put into every stitch. As the girl began to cry tears of sadness, her mother pulled the child onto her lap and rocked her. “Sometimes, my child, we see things that we want. The kind of things that aren’t a necessity; they aren’t crucial to our survival as humans. We want them because everyone else has them, but just because the girls at school play with them, or because they look perfect and new, and we have to realize the value of other things that might not look pretty. too. Even if this doll isn’t as beautiful as others, it was made by your mother. How many children at your school can say that their mother handmade them a doll?”
The girl looked up at her mother, her tears now dry. “I know it’s nothing special, but I hope you come to love this gift, and keep it as a reminder that love doesn’t have to be shown in the form of expensive, shiny new gifts. It can be the small things that, despite their appearances, have even more meaning than money could ever buy,” her mother said.
And after that, the girl took the doll everywhere she went, and when the other girls laughed at the ragdoll that the girl cherished, she would ignore them, and keep playing. Because after all, how many of those girls could say that their mother hand stitched them a doll for Christmas?
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Seems to be dusty in here!!! Very nice!
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And now mine’s up on my LiveJournal at https://starshipcat.livejournal.com/1286952.html. Another piece of Elaine’s story, although I’m not sure exactly where it’ll go. We’ll see when I finally get to that part of the Sharp Wars novels.
[…] this week’s Odd Prompt, Fiona Grey challenged me with: The everyday purposes of megalithic structures were finally […]
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Got mine up. Kinda weird. I just let it ramble.
Oh, wow. In some locales, the farmers build fences out of the loose stones they pull out of their fields. Will future archeologists think those are some kind of ritual formation? Thought provoking.
My brother (the archaeologist) found a face carved into a stone that was part of a farmer’s wall. He realized the stone with the face had been dug up elsewhere and the farmer had simply included it in the wall. There was no significance to its placement… so yeah, that’s a possibility.
For the love of all that’s holy, DON’T. EAT. THE YELLOW. SNOW.
[so, does eating the yellow snow hurt all that’s holy? So yellow snow is dedicated to the holy ones? Hum…]
Harry loved his new job at the SnoCone. It was just a little stand along the roadside, but he got plenty of customers coming past. And they had such a wild gadget to play with! He wasn’t completely sure what happened inside, but he had to fill it with blocks of ice from the freezer chest, then when he turned it on, it produced a spray of snow, quickly filling the paper cones that was the basic product. Oh, from time to time, someone would buy a real cone, which was some kind of baked thing, but most people just got the paper cones. And then he got to pour the syrup over that snow! Pick your flavor, vanilla, strawberry, chocolate, they had them all.
Of course, he really hated it when old man Garrison came by the stand, which he did about every third day. He’d stand there, and as the kids came up, he’d yell, “For the love of all that’s holy, DON’T. EAT. THE YELLOW. SNOW.” Then he’d laugh and laugh.
Most of the kids knew he was nuts, and just ignored him. But of course, some of them asked Harry what was wrong with the yellow snow. He always just shrugged, and told them the yellow was lemon, and as far as he knew, there wasn’t anything wrong with it.
Still, it was a great job. Feeding the masses with snow!
[hum, that’s not too bad. Although I do wonder about Garrison…]
[response hazy. Try again later….]
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Haha, I haven’t had a snow cone in a while…
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[…] about writing fiction! – you can find the rules and responses to all the prompts over at More Odds Than Ends. For instance, I prompted Fiona Grey last week with “That’s when that spa showed up. You […]
I couldn’t manage fiction, so instead you get a bit of art exploration and learning to use art tools in the AI-verse. https://www.cedarwrites.com/2023/02/08/odd-prompts-midjourney-styles/
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Applause! I really enjoyed the various renditions of bullfrogs in a bathtub! And the explanation of how the tool has changed. Very interesting.
Heh – mine keeps telling me I’m posting a duplicate so maybe this disclaimer at the top will let it slip through!
My prompt, from Leigh Kimmel, was “They forbade us to even refer to them by name, a restriction so obnoxious it deserved to be ridiculed by being obeyed in the most absurd fashion possible.”
My first time joining the prompts though I’ve been reading them for a little while. Decided to jump in and join the fun!
“Whatever, butthead!” came the heckle from somewhere in the back of the auditorium. A gasp went up as people turned to try to identify the speaker.
“Who said that? Identify yourself immediately!” From the stage, the new CEO glared into the audience, daring the person to step forward.
He had just finished introducing the new management team that had been air-dropped into our company. The board and CEO had fired all of our senior management and were replacing them with “people who didn’t waste time on the soft, touchy-feely stuff that caused us to be so unsuccessful.”
To emphasize that, they had opened the meeting with the direction that this was all business, nothing personal and that to ensure that we were focused exclusively on the work we were doing, we were not allowed to refer to the new leadership by name as names created personal connections which led to soft, unproductive workers.
“Butthead!” was again shouted by the unseen heckler.
As the audience turned back to the CEO, it started to dawn on everyone that the man had a decidedly wide forehead with a pronounced vertical crease down the center. Hesitant laughter started to quietly bubble up. “He does look like a butthead!”
The CEO started to turn red and was sputtering, seemingly at a loss for words. The new CCPO – Chief Capacity and Productivity Officer stepped forward. A tall woman wearing a severe pantsuit, her otherwise plain face was marred by a large reddish blemish that was starting to throb, turning redder in the process. Small white streaks covered the surface of the blemish and it was impossible to not notice it.
“You will all show some respect! I did not take this job just be insulted by all of you little people!”
“Sit down, Easy Button! I’m just following your stupid rules.” Clearly the heckler wasn’t done and, based on the reaction from the other leaders, he had clearly struck a nerve.
“You said we can’t use your names, right?” he yelled from the back. “Well fine. We’ll come up with something better for each of you!”
The new leaders tried to get the meeting back on track and pretended the heckling had not happened. After a few PowerPoint slides, however, it became clear that they had lost any semblance of control as the audience was openly ignoring them and talking amongst each other, occasionally pointing and laughing.
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No sympathy for clearly self-inflicted wounds.