Posts Tagged ‘writing prompt


Tossing in Towels

I tried. I made it a month, and though I didn’t do a writing prompt every day in that month, I did still manage to cough up thirty of them in thirty days. That’s something to be respected.

I just don’t think I can keep this up for an entire year. Fatigue is already setting in, alongside the boredom and writer’s block that were the original problems I was aiming to cure.

I’d like to say I’ll power through it, but I know myself better than that. It was a fun experiment, but not one that appeared destined for success. We’ll see if I can at least continue blogging every day for a while longer, but without the writing prompts I have the issue of “What is there to say?”

I’m sure something will come to me, and I may revisit the prompts again after a refractory period, but for the moment, the train has parked at the station.


Writing Prompt: Dragon

What the Dragon wants, it gets. When it hungers, it feeds; when it tires, it sleeps; when it lusts, it satiates that lust; when it needs hands to grasp the things it cannot reach, it breeds them.

Few of those hands are ever aware of where they come from, or that they are being used by their unnatural, inhuman father. There are exceptions, of course. But the Dragon is careful who it chooses for its brood mothers. Those who dream of love, it seduces. Those who dream of violence, it violates. Few survive. Fewer remember. But the blood runs true, even in children who do not know or believe in their father.

Legions have come and gone, each cast away in turn. Some were too human, weak and puling and powerless, unable or unwilling to do the things their dark father demanded of them. Others were to full of pride and ambition drunk on the unnatural strengths of their maker. Each still served a purpose, as the Dragon learned and adjusted and cultivated family trees the way some would trim a bonsai.

Now it has what it has wanted all along. The perfect set of hands. Strong enough to contain the Dragon’s essence, its power. Dumb enough to not know what it was bred for.

The Dragon will walk again, and worlds will tremble.


Writing Prompt: Box

The box has lain quiet in the deepest parts of the Atlantic Ocean almost since the dawn of time.

It seems simple enough, at first glance. A metallic rectangle, six feet by two feet, with little to distinguish it from the other detritus floating around it. But take a closer look and you might notice the engraving.

Dozens of capering figures, animals and designs that look like primitive drawings of fire ring both the top and bottom edge. Carved through across the middle is a series of panels depicting two men. In the first, they are holding each other’s shoulders. In the next they are bowing before a fire. Another panel over shows one carrying leaves and fruits towards the fire, while the other brother carries a lamb. The next shows the brother with the fruits walking away with a dejected expression. The last shows the two at each other’s throats, the brother who bore fruit with a blade in his hand.

Written across the front of the casket in hundreds of styles and tongues is what appears to be a single word with dozens of different spellings. “Cain. Caine. Cagn. Kain. Kaen.” A multitude more.

The box has lain here for millennia, untouched and safe – or perhaps the world was safe from it – but time and tide have worn away the edges, and now a single crack has formed at one corner. Through that crack an occasional bubble emerges, defying that the pressure and length of time it’s been submerged should have ensured nothing living or breathing could be inside and alive.

Inside, Cain lies waiting, knowing that soon enough his seal will be broken, and he will be free.


Writing Prompt: Loneliness

To a little girl in Kentucky, I’m Maxine. Maxine is twelve, loves Taylor Swift, and daydreams about marrying Harry Styles one day. To a bored housewife in Vancouver, I’m Ricardo. Ricardo – or Ricky, as she calls him, thinking she’s being clever – is an undercover erotica writer who claims she’s his muse. To a long-haul trucker usually on the road between Portland and San Diego, I’m Nadine. Nadine is the daughter he didn’t know he had, who tells him stories of her mundane life and keeps him sane on the road. I’m a hundred other things to a hundred other people, but what I really am is just their loneliness reflected back at them.

I’m the voice they want to hear when there’s no one around, the comfort of knowing someone is there for them when there isn’t anyone else. I’m their drug, really, though they don’t know it. The thing they turn to when they need to forget just how desperate and hurting they really are.

It’s unpleasant work, but it has to be done. Without me, the alternatives would be worse. A spirit much worse than me would come to them, then… and nobody wants Ixtab, goddess of suicide, doing any more than she already does.

So I pretend to be their friend, their lover, their lost family member, and keep them going just a while longer. Sometimes they grow out of it; like forgetting a childhood imaginary friend, they move on and find something else to live for. That’s what I hope for when they stop communicating. But I can’t ever be sure. I can’t actually see them, or interact with them; I’m just words on a screen or a scrap of paper. I’m always afraid Ixtab got them in the end, and judging from the content of some of their letters, I’m sure she has. But I’m a more hopeful sort.


Writing Prompt: Colorblind

Most people are gray. Walking around, not knowing it, they’re trapped in thick smoke the color of ash, living their whole lives thinking they’re feeling the great highs and lows of passion and depression, love and hate.

They’re lying to themselves; they feel pale echoes of those things, all that their rotten, broken souls can endure.

It wasn’t always that way; people used to come in all colors of the rainbow, their little personal ecosystems flashing brilliant red and orange and purple, thundering into deep black or royal blue. Most people then were like that, but time wore on, souls got tired, and most of them now are just gray.

That’s why it’s such a treat to see the old brilliant colors again, to see someone wreathed in virtual fire or lugging around a jet black cloud of depression. The last one was almost a year ago. I’m lucky to have found another one so soon.

I’m hungry, you see. Hungry for what produces those lovely auras, that little spark that’s almost entirely died out amongst you humans. I get by – we all do – on the scraps that are left at the table. The dry, dusty taste of a gray soul suffices for survival, but not for flavor. The ones who can conjure other colors, they are like a five-star banquet meal, and stave off the hunger for months at a time, instead of only hours.

There. That one. Little kid, looks like. It’s hard to see him through the bright reds and yellows that surround him. Doesn’t matter. He’s angry about something. That doesn’t matter, either. No one will notice when he’s gone. They’ll barely turn their heads when they realize he’s not shouting at his mother or a stray cat or an empty box or whatever it is that has caught his ire.

Then he’ll be mine. All mine.

And I am oh so hungry.


Writing Prompt: Nobody

I live upstairs, even above the attic. My room is that space just above the ceiling, where the raccoons scurry about and the mildew smell comes from when you don’t run the air conditioner for six months.

I’m always here; I hardly leave my room, but I never leave the house. Even when my family is gone, I’m still here.

They never gave me a name, so I took one for myself. When they’re not here, and the answering machine kicks in, it says “Nobody’s home, so leave a message.”

That makes me Nobody. And Nobody is always home.


Writing Prompt: Menagerie

They called it Katy’s Menagerie, but Kathleen Maclendon thought of them as her children.

A thirty-foot section of wall, rounding two corners, was devoted to thick glass shelves and recessed accent lighting, and in nearly every bit of real estate on those shelves, dolls were crowded in.

Some of them were recent acquisitions; American Girls or Barbies. Others were older – one of her pieces of pride was an original Little Miss No Name, still with a tear on her cheek – and others could even be considered antiques, old china dolls bought at auction from decrepit estates that had last been remodeled sometime in the last century.

Every one of them had a name: Susie, Annabelle, Robert. Hundreds more. Only Katy could keep them all straight, and sometimes when she had visitors and one of the dolls was called by the wrong name – by accident or maliciousness, Katy was never sure – she would apologize to Naomi or Hayley or Liam later, and make sure they had special lap time.

Lap time was the best for her, because it was then she didn’t feel alone. She would take down one of her dolls, and speak to it and cradle it gently. She would tell it about her day and ask what they had been up to, which of the other dolls had been naughty that day, which had performed some unseen kindness.

Though they never talked back, Katy imagined that they did, and it made her feel better. It served as a balm on her troubled, lonely soul. So it was, and so it would be, forever and ever, amen. Or so she thought.

Then came the day when, at lap time, Jose really did speak back to her.


Writing Prompt: Library

Perfect lighting illuminates a square of floor that gleams so brightly one might almost believe it is not only resistant to the marks left by hundreds of shuffling feet, but somehow actively repels them. Every wall seems to stretch for miles, both up and along the room, and every one is packed with books.

As you approach one of the shelves, you see each has small lettering detailing the title of each tome, and each one is a name. Some of them are thought provoking – Cain, Lee Harvey Oswald, Ted Bundy – while others are not as familiar – A. Jonas Cruz, Mordechai Wilton, Ben Holmes – but you think you grasp the theme.

Wanting to be sure you take down one of the books with an unfamiliar name – this one is titled Herbert Jameson – and flip it open. Inside are intricate drawings of a murder scene, no detail left without comment. Pages and pages are filled with precise handwriting detailing the killing, including all of the events that led up to it and the aftermath. The final page is marked with heavy black letters that only say “Unsolved.”

You take down another, and another, some famous names and some not, and they are all the same; photos, drawings, detailed psychiatry reports. Always that final page, sometimes marked “Solved,” others “Unsolved,” and others still – Oswald’s, for example – marked “Mystery.” That’s when you realize what you’ve stumbled on.

It looks – and is – a library. A very special reference library. Every one of the books details a murderer, from the man who smothered his wife because she wouldn’t stop nagging and was never caught all the way up to Jack the Ripper’s canonical five… and beyond. A library of murderers, just waiting for someone with the right key to come, waiting to expose its secrets to the right soul.

You take down the book marked “Ripper,” and go to leave. That’s when you discover the door you came through, the one that was supposed to lead you into the Albany Public and took you here instead, is gone. Turning around again, trying to fight the panic, you notice what escaped you when you first came in: a small desk tucked just out of the range of the lights. On the desk is a small, hand-lettered sign.

“Help wanted,” is what the sign says. Underneath that, in smaller lettering, it says “Position filled. Sorry.”

Next to that on the desk is a name plaque. It says “Head Librarian.”

The line beneath that is your own name.


Writing Prompt: Deep Blue

Deep Blue had been successful… mostly. It had made it 800 meters before showing any strain, and 850 before they’d had to pull out. They had samples galore; frill sharks, dumbo octopuses, krill and plankton that somehow managed to get by down there. All of it instantly cryogenically frozen so they could actually get a look at it before it exploded on the way back up.

All that, and one odd thing. A relic of some kind. They’d found it at the midpoint of the dive, something metallic being piked up by the sensors. With a careful robotic arm, they’d retrieved it, kept it in storage with the rest, though it hadn’t needed the cryogenics to survive the trip.

It had turned out to be a small statue, not quite a meter tall, made of something the eggheads couldn’t identify. Some kind of metal alloy, they said, but nothing they could pinpoint. Probably some kind of siderite or a chunk of a meteor, or both, they said.

It depicted something that had a vaguely human shape, but instead of arms there were long tentacles, wrapped around the figure’s body like a straightjacket. The face, if you could call it that, was also obscured by tentacles, seeming to emerge from the lower jaw and raise upwards to cover the head.

Some of the researchers had joked that they’d found Cthulhu. Until they started dying. Then they weren’t joking.


Writing Prompt: Cats

Everyone avoided the house at the corner of Palm and 24th.

Stories as to why were varied, but the one that had the most traction – and the most whispers in the schoolyard, leading inevitably to dares, leading inevitably to children running away from the house like their pants were on fire – was that the previous tenant had spent the twenty years leading up to his death torturing animals. Specifically, cats.

The man, Eldon Withers by name, supposedly hated them. Didn’t have a single bone in his body that found them fluffy, cute, adorable, or loving. They were just nuisances to him, and the fact that the neighborhood had plenty of strays and outdoor pets drove him mad. So he took matters into his own hands, and started, in his terms, “cleaning up the neighborhood.”

Nobody knows how many he disposed of. Nobody knows what he did or how he did it. They just know that after twenty years, everyone kept their cats indoors and there were no strays. Then Eldon died. Heart attack, most say. Vengeance of the cats, the more superstitious townsfolk were prone to saying.

When the EMTs and cops searched the place, they found thousands of bones in the basement. They couldn’t determine just how many animals the bones belonged to, but just by sheer number, it was “a lot.”

That’s not where it ended, though; sometimes people would hear cats yowling in the night, or sounds of cats fighting. The sounds always came from the house, but those brave enough to enter never found any live animals… though a lot of them came out claiming they had felt watched, or with weird scratches on them that they swear weren’t there before they went in.

Some have claimed a hobo or two has tried squatting in the house. Police reports back it up; at least one body of an unidentified male was found in the house after calls complaining of a horrible stench were logged. The reports claim the body had been scratched, clawed and bitten in over a hundred places. Heart attack was the official story; died by fright was the claim of whisperers.

Nobody goes near the house, except kids on dares and the cops when the place starts stinking again or the yowls get too loud. Nobody knows what’s in there, but the kids on the schoolyard say it’s the spirit of all those murdered cats, pissed off and hungry for blood… and content to take it from anyone who trespasses on their domain.

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