Week 12 of Odd Prompts: 2023 Edition

This last week slipped by in a real hurry. Heck, this whole year has been like that. One constant is this here prompt blog. When you get stuck, you can always come here for a prompt, or a spare, and get yourself up off the hidden reefs of life and back into the stream of productivity.

Cedar SandersonWe’ve begun to find some potteryFiona Grey
Fiona GreyLet me tell you what happened when they de-orbited the International Space Station.nother Mike
AC YoungCan a dragon fly underneath a rainbow?Leigh Kimmel
Leigh KimmelYou’re cleaning out a storage unit that’s been crammed full of boxes. As you get closer to the back, you open a box and look down into a hole that can’t possibly be there.AC Young
nother MikeWhen we opened the door to the storage closet in the basement, a ray of sunshine lanced out into the darkness…Cedar Sanderson

As always, there are spares! Because sometimes we get caught up in the breathless pace of life, forget to send in a prompt, or pull our punches on committing to creating this week (or any week).

SpareThey go out when the glaziers come in
SpareThe wallpaper was a list of every email he’d left unread and every chore he’d deliberately forgotten.
SpareThis insurance policy was different, though no one ever read the fine print…
SpareEach report had to be submitted three times. Each time another set of people needed to approve it. Only then was it final.
SpareBy the time we decoded the inscription, it was too late. It was a very direct imperative.
SpareYou brought a banana to a knife fight?

Heck, if you want to take your prompt, and hack it up a difficulty level with a spare tacked on, that would be fun! Come back in the comments and show your work. See you next week…

Visual Prompt (image by Cedar Sanderson)


  1. This week I swapped prompts with Leigh Kimmel, and received: You’re cleaning out a storage unit that’s been crammed full of boxes. As you get closer to the back, you open a box and look down into a hole that can’t possibly be there.

    Grandfather’s house had been packed up and stored in a storage unit when he had died. It had been three years, but now we were going through the boxes, the remains of a long life well lived.

    Even now it was taking a long time, as we only had a few hours on Saturdays. Each box took us up to an hour to go through, but we were getting there.

    I was approaching the time when I had to lock up the storage unit for another Saturday. My siblings and cousins had already left.

    I decided to attempt one last box. This one was different, it seemed to have been packed by Grandfather, with his handwriting on the label. “Failed experiment. Store forever.”

    What on Earth was he talking about? I got my Stanley knife and sliced the Sellotape. I opened the flaps and looked inside.

    What? Instead of a full box, there was only one contraption. But in the middle of the contraption was a hole, one that appeared to go down without a bottom.

    I didn’t know what to do, so I just played a straight bat and tried to delay making a decision. I shut the box back up, and started hunting for any more boxes with Grandfather’s handwriting. If this was a failed experiment, then he must have kept some sort of information on the experiments he’d been performing.

    Not the next box – that had been packed by whichever faceless drone had been assigned to Grandfather’s house before it had been sold. So had the one after that.

    There it was – or at least I hoped that it was. Grandfather’s handwriting was on the label. I opened it up. There was a pile of books inside. I picked up the first one and flicked to the first page.

    It was full of Grandfather’s neat, elegant handwriting. I started to read, and got completely lost only halfway down the first page. I closed it up, and picked up the next book. It was more or less the same.

    I had only a few minutes left, so I picked up the box of books, and took it out to my car. I locked up the storage unit, and put the books in my boot.

    I would try to make head or tail of them before we needed to do something with the box next week.


  2. Fiona Grey opened the tale with…

    Let me tell you what happened when they de-orbited the International Space Station.

    [whoops! One of those events that no one really planned for, but now we are going to do it? Hum, and just after some debris from the ISS apparently nearly caused a panic in California, with falling stars streaking across the sky? So just what is likely to happen when they try to deliberately change the orbit and bring the ISS down to earth?]

    [blast, I don’t think I am going to have the time to really dig out the bits and pieces. What I’d like to talk about is the notion that the ISS, having been put together over time by various organizations, probably without any plan to de-orbit it, may not go gently into the arms of the recovery craft? I mean, you’ve got to slow it down, right, to lower the orbit, which means probably having a pusher or strap on rockets to push. And are the various parts of the ISS really built to take such a stress? Then you get to ride it into atmosphere! And we know that even with heat shields and all the design stuff, even shuttles have fun with that. Then, of course, where were you planning to land it? Ocean might be safest, but some folks like trying to land on land… No doubt with the world watching, too! So, quite a rollercoaster ride, more than likely with fireworks from dropped wrenches and other debris. Hey, imagine what a solar panel might do, fluttering down through the air… but I’m running out of time!So, a quickie version?]

    Let me tell you what happened when they de-orbited the International Space Station.

    They had gone over the engineering numbers again and again. Heck, they ran simulations up the wazoo! But, you know, that old ISS had been added to, reworked, and sat there for so long. No one really knew what all was hanging together there in orbit. Not until they tried to move her, that is.

    They had attached rockets and remote guidance systems to all the places they thought needed it. So they started out with a gentle deceleration, slowing her down so the orbit would dip.

    That’s when they learned that the ISS really wasn’t designed to move. First off, there were all kinds of little bits and pieces that… well, they didn’t really slow down. They just dropped off and made a cloud of debris, sitting right there where the ISS had been. The news crews with their remote drones sure had a field day taking pictures of that trail of junk in orbit.

    Then, next, it turned out that they hadn’t quite gotten the vectors completely aligned. Or maybe the internal braces and struts weren’t quite what everyone thought they were? Anyway, some pieces tried to fold in, while others bent away, and there was a whole set of solar panels that decided to act like wings and flew off. Again, the news drones recorded the whole mess, and people around the world watched.

    So, while the ground crew was trying to figure out what to do with this flying disaster, it started hitting the slightest edge of the atmosphere. Which meant more stress. Oh, and little things, a wrench mag-fastened to the leading side, a toilet liner, this and that, suddenly decided to fly free, since they had different air resistance from the main body.

    Which meant the whole Earth got treated to a display of fireworks in the night sky, and even some in the day sky, like no one had ever seen before. Shooting stars, racing across the sky.

    Luckily, most of it burned up in the upper atmosphere. Long before it could hit the ground, or the ocean.

    That’s right, they had planned for the main body to land in the ocean, and in fact, most of it did. Of course, they hadn’t really expected that people would take boats out to see it land, and some of those boats had trouble with the tsunamis that the crash caused, but…

    You know, I think it is fair to say that night was one time when almost everyone on the Earth watched the sky. And shook their heads as the ISS fell.

    [hum, that’s not too bad…]


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