Nathan Bransford, Author


Monday, October 12, 2009

The 3rd Sort-of-Annual Stupendously Ultimate First Paragraph Challenge

Fun fact: The person who thought of the last contest we had (Be an Agent for a Day), is now a client of mine: hello Jim Duncan! Also, the person who won the contest before that (The 2nd Semi-Annual Stupendously Ultimate First Paragraph Challenge), is also now a client: hello Natalie Whipple!

We've also had three finalists, Stuart Neville, Terry DeHart, and Victoria Schwab go on to be published/soon-to-be-published authors respectively.

In other words: NO PRESSURE.

(Bonus fun fact: I didn't actually call the inaugural first paragraph challenge "stupendously ultimate," it was actually "largely indispensable," which throws into doubt whether this could properly be called the "third sort-of-annual." We'll just agree to forget that part, hmm?)

Now then!

It is time. Time to test your paragraph against... other first paragraphs. Time to see if your sentences can wage successful word combat in order to defeat other sentences and emerge victorious on a field of battle.

Oh, and there are prizes. Let's start there.

The GRAND PRIZE STUPENDOUSLY ULTIMATE WINNER will receive....

1) Their choice of a partial critique, query critique, or phone consultation

2) A very-sought-after galley of THE SECRET YEAR by Jennifer Hubbard, which will be published by Viking in January:



3) A signed THE SECRET YEAR bookmark

4) The envy of their rivals

5) The pride of a job well done

6) I think you get the picture

The STUPENDOUSLY ULTIMATE FINALISTS will receive....

a) Query critiques

b) A signed THE SECRET YEAR bookmark (assuming you live in a place that is reached in a reasonably affordable fashion by the postal service no offense forraners)

c) Pride. Lots of pride.

On to the rules!!

I) This is a for-fun contest that I conduct in the free time. Rules may be adjusted without notice, as I see fit, in ways in which you might find capricious, arbitrary, and in a possibly not fully comprehensible fashion. Complainants will be sent to the Magister, and trust me, you don't want to get sent to the Magister (who's been watching True Blood? This guy)

II) Ya hear? Angst = prohibited.

III) Please post the first paragraph of any work-in-progress in the comments section of THIS POST. Do not e-mail me your submission. The deadline for entry is THURSDAY 4pm Pacific time, at which point entries will be closed. Finalists will be announced on Friday, at which time you will exercise your democratic rights to choose a stupendously ultimate winner.

IV) You may enter once, once you may enter, and enter once you may.

V) Spreading word about the contest is strongly encouraged.

VI) I will be sole judge. Unless I chicken out.

VII) I am not imposing a word count on the paragraphs. However, a paragraph that is overly long may lose points in the judge's eyes. Use your own discretion.

VIII) Please remember that the paragraph needs to be a paragraph, not multiple paragraphs masquerading as one paragraph.

That is all.

And now I shall retreat to my stupendously ultimate bunker.

UPDATE: CONTEST IS CLOSED!! Thank you so much to everyone who entered.






2650 comments:

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Eric said...

In the dream he was afield righting fenceposts of gray birch. Along the fence weeds grew long and the wind sawed their blades together. He drove the last post home and turned to survey the land and saw a crop of teeth rising from the gray dirt. As he watched, the teeth grew up to his thigh and he ran his hand along the nearest and held it like an ear of corn, bending to his touch. He gathered his tools wet with blood from the ground and was homeward when he first saw the storm. From horizon to horizon it came like the felling of a black wood, tree by tree toward him, like motile earth. He ran for the house along the fenceline and threw the backdoor open. Helene at the kitchen table, belly before her and hands upon it. He flew down the hall and into each room and finding nothing came out the front to see Samuel in the yard, watching the storm grind up the field across the road and collect the teeth in its mass and as David reached for the boy’s hand the storm took the other, and he awoke.

Ken Coffman said...

The afternoon sun broiled the beach. The olive-drab Skagit River, on the last lazy stage of its long journey from the Canadian Cascades, roiled and burbled. A little Mexican girl, dressed only in a sagging swimsuit bottom and dried mud, ran in tight circles…stirring a cloud of choking dust.
- Ken Coffman, Fairhaven

Brandon said...

Snow is on the ground in every direction as far as the eye can see. Every few feet a tall oak tree reaches into the sky. Its eerily dark; only a few rays of light from the full moon above penetrate the encompassing trees . In the distance an orange light flickers in the darkness. “Ugh...stupid animals. Waking me up at all hours of the night, biting me. I hate you right now.”

Max said...

Everything you are about to read in this book is the absolute truth, other than this sentence which is a complete shameless lie.

Nathan said...

“Wake up ya worthless pigs, ‘ell’s come early t’day!”
The scream resounded off the stones and clay of the hut’s interior, and Galen opened his eyes, though for several moments he wondered if he had. The dark tendrils of sleep trailed over into wakefulness. Numb within the cold shackles, his legs throbbed as icy pinpricks scattered across his bare skin. Next to him in the dirt, he could feel the cold form of the slave that had huddled beside him during the night. Its flesh was now as frozen and hard as the irons around his feet.

Dawn Hullender said...

Have you ever had the feeling you were somewhere you really shouldn’t be and were about to get busted? Well, I was having that feeling now – or rather it was jumping up and smacking me dead center on the nose. Stinky, my pompous handler, always picked our meeting spots and this time he’d stepped in it big time – the doo doo that is. I am currently pacing the near empty loft of D.C.’s FBI headquarters, can you say ‘oh shit?’

Marilyn Peake said...

There was a caustic chemical smell, a medicinal stench. Dusky light filtered through spun lace curtains. Gavin opened his eyes. Pulling himself to his knees and peering over the top of the mattress, he noted blue phosphorescent light emanating from the skeleton.

- From TRAIL OF BONES AND EXCREMENT

Talia Vance said...

The Blue Box sputters and coughs as the engine shuts down. I wait another minute. It isn’t until the car starts to get unbearably hot that I get out and walk to the front door. Once there, I pause again, shuffling my feet on the doormat that says, “Solicitors will be shot.” In case the message isn’t clear enough, a giant picture of the barrel of a shotgun points up at me. I check my phone one more time. Haley hasn’t responded. I press the button before I can think about it anymore. A high-pitched screech comes from inside the house before footsteps approach and several locks turn. I put my hands to my side and try to project the fact that I am in no way soliciting.

Jamie B said...

My toes tunnel in the sand, seeking solace from the scorching heat. Waves crash onto the beach, echo in my head, and attempt to soak the memories I’d carried here to drown. But they float to the surface, always resilient, claiming prominence in the forefront of my mind.

emmycee said...

It all began with the woman in the gold brassiere. Garish, multicolored glimmers from the gaslight club signs reflected off the aureate undergarment to catch the eye like an incautious fingernail. Sparks of blue, green, and the ever-present red glinted as her shoulders shook with deep, noisy sobs. The tears that streaked down her face caught the glare, too, and turned her cheeks into an unhappy rainbow. Brisbane Mudd, true to his impish nature, mostly noticed the glittery lingerie.

Inmodify said...

Billy Matherson was a special needs student. His particular area of need was discipline. He required disciplinary actions suited for a child several grades above the fourth. Several times a day he found a new and innovative way to require a paddling from Ms. Young.

Ami Hendrickson said...

They had conducted rescue missions in seedier areas… Ellie was sure of it. She just couldn’t place any of them at the moment.

Athena's Little Helper said...

They had gray skin and yellow eyes. They must have had lots of strength, too, because they busted through the locked front door without any trouble at all. Obviously, Emma Wren thought, they were not new neighbors here to welcome her and Dad to the area.

Peg Leg O'Sullivan said...

The sand hills and tortured oaks of a wasteland flew by the window of the Pennsylvania Limited. Desolate prairie stretched unbroken to the east, a monotony that mingled with my reflection on the soot-speckled glass. “A woman’s fate is in her face,” I whispered to myself, the same dire warning that my grandmother had uttered near the end. I was come to a strange land, far removed from the green fields and gray mists of Limerick, come to a place without hills or valleys or living beings, to settle in this parched expanse of nothingness that never ended, no matter how fast the locomotive raced across Indiana.

The Editors said...

“It is a good day to die, isn’t Ms. Jones?”

Bekki said...

There are two things which I remember very clearly from the house on the beach where we lived until I was six years old. The first is the sound of the ocean crashing against the rocks in our backyard. The second is the day my sister Sarah drowned.

DL Hammons said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Liberty Speidel said...

I should have taken a vacation. Hell, I needed one. Especially walking into this mess. But no. Stupid me, I had to barrel in and get involved. If I'd known what I'd encounter, I would have hit the road to the mountains.

DL Hammons said...

Today was the day, he could just feel it. Brady Jones told himself the same thing every morning. Deep down he knew that it was simply lip service; a way of puffing up his confidence and reminding him that on any given day his life could change for the better. He felt like one of those people who bought lottery tickets every week, always looking forward towards the possible. Like them, he never wasted time worrying over the countless days his prediction turned out to be false, preferring to remain hopeful. After all, the change he hoped for didn’t have to be anything earth shattering; nowadays his expectations were set pretty low.

Terry said...

People die in the damnedest ways.
It can be a myocardial infarction shredding the heart muscle in a tenth of a second. Or an oncoming driver who zigs when he should have zagged. Or the black cancer coming slowly to life somewhere down deep in the body.
But Elijah Silver never, ever, thought death might come in the form of a chubby, smiling baby girl waving a banner bearing his name.

Mary said...

In a certain Kingdom, in a certain realm, on the eve of the Nahe'dra rising, a cloud of smoke whisked across the night sky beneath a crescent moon. Black piercing eyes searched the inward curves of snow covered alps. Sharp teeth appeared as lips parted in a fearsome grin. Abruptly the cloud descended into the uninhabited depths of a dark forest. Twigs snapped and leaves rustled as a fierce wind swept through the trees.
“She has arrived at last,” a voice whispered in the darkness.
“Why is she making so much noise? It's enough to wake the dead,” whispered another.
“Maybe that's the idea.”

Stacy McKitrick said...

Sarah Daugherty drove into the parking garage and smiled when she found an empty space near
the Bumblebee. It wasn’t a real bumblebee, just her nickname for the bright yellow SUV with the black bumpers that always seemed to be there. Something she could count on.

The Shadow said...

New York City.
Never in all of my time have I encountered anything else quite like it. I walk its dark streets in search of something - something I lost long ago. Maybe it’s purpose in some form, perhaps in the form of love and companionship or something else all together which eludes my grasp. I had purpose once, long ago and in a different place, and while the circumstances have changed very little since then my life isn't the same as it once was. Every night the world around me seems to deteriorate in such a way I can no longer recognize it anymore and my purpose drifts further away until the time comes when I won't ever be able to see it again.

Edward Bulwer-Lytton said...

It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents, except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the house-tops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness. Through one of the obscurest quarters of London, and among haunts little loved by the gentlemen of the police, a man, evidently of the lowest orders, was wending his solitary way. He stopped twice or thrice at different shops and houses of a description correspondent with the appearance of the quartier in which they were situated, and tended inquiry for some article or another which did not seem easily to be met with. All the answers he received were couched in the negative; and as he turned from each door he muttered to himself, in no very elegant phraseology, his disappointment and discontent. At length, at one house, the landlord, a sturdy butcher, after rendering the same reply the inquirer had hitherto received, added, "But if this vill do as vell, Dummie, it is quite at your sarvice!"
- Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Paul Clifford

Who is Felicia? said...

“I have an idea.” Leah’s face was pressed up against the empty tavern window, hands cupping her eyes. “We should open a bar.” Leah always had ideas. I heard the line come out of her mouth daily. “I have an idea….”, followed by an elaborate plan to start her own business and become rich. Hand-painted t-shirts. Designer cat litter boxes. Carved wooden yoga blocks. A thing that plugs into your car’s cigarette lighter and statically draws all the floating dog fur into its jaws.

Nathaniel said...

There’s a single tear with no seeming purpose deposited in the valley of my hand and as I stare at it, a strand of golden hair threatens to cut my eye if I blink too fast, sending me into a panic until I realize that it is a ray of early sunshine breaking in through the cracks. It’s not just any kind of sunshine. It is the kind that will stir millions from stillness; the kind that will rescue many a mind from the trapdoors of dreamscapes; the kind that will open up eyes to their fate. But for me, it is the kind of sunshine that sends me into bouts of despair for it means to do harm; it means to erase this place forever.

Krista Ashe said...

"You cain’t save him!" the voice in his head shouted as he sprinted through heavily tree lined woods. The icy fear, which hung around him like a specter, breathed doubt into his ears. "But John, you’s just a boy. A colored boy at dat. Wat can you possibly do?" He ignored the voice and pounded his feet into the red clay, his breath syncopating between pants and sobs. Briars tore stinging scrapes along his face, arms, and neck, springing forth tiny droplets of blood. A river streamed into his eyes as the scarlet beads mixed with pouring sweat. His vision clouded, but he did not stop to wipe his eyes. Vines full of prickly brambles dug into his faded overalls. When they wrapped themselves around his legs and waist like willowy arms, he fought his way out of their crippling grasp.

lizB said...

Suzie Donovan sat in room 4110 of Faith Community Hospital and stared at her sister’s broken body. It had been three years and six months since they’d spoken or seen each other. Three years and six months since Kelly told Suzie she was too difficult to love. Except for the swollen knob of Kelly’s right knee and the cast going from her left foot to her hip, the white sheets seemed to sink all the way to the mattress. Suzie listened to the suck-whoosh of the ventilator, the beep of the heart monitor, and waited for the doctor.

Kayla said...

The moment her bow glided across the violin’s strings, she knew she had them.
Time slowed to a viscous pace. Every note, each deliberate and utterly raw, rang of evermore blues and the depleted pale-greens of coastal peat bogs. The Belladonna crooned in response, her patrons shifting, first into awed silence, and then into obeisance, their jaws slack.

Danyelle said...

Sometimes a frog is just a frog. And sometimes that frog turns out to be a prince. Nine times out of ten, I'm hoping for the frog.

Abby said...

The crisp paper pleasantly crackled as Trey pulled it from its envelope and proceeded to unfold its secrets. The original translation, a page of parchment written in French, was discovered in a trunk decorated with indeterminate years of use. The parchment held a certain mystique. Its rough texture and sallow hue complemented the unfinished edges and spidery handwriting filling the page. Yet the boldness of the manuscript’s ink looked as if it had been written only yesterday, and this intriguing quality accentuated the document’s irresistible pull to be read.

Chris Eldin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Terry said...

It took me a while to even notice how crazy I was driving Mrs. Vreeland next door. But once I did, well let's just say, my inner sadist got the better of me.

Tommy said...

Patrick stared at the newly assembled bicycle and wished for the first time in a week that he had something to drink. His daughter, Emily would be there any minute and already he felt the urge to get drunk.

Kathleen Hurley said...

At 5:35 p.m. as the working people of Cologne, Germany were entering the Cathedral for Easter confessions, a woman cautiously stepped inside the third confessional box and arranged the shadows in her black velvet skirt. Her scarf was the last to enter and never fully made it inside. An old man, confessing that he aided the Nazis by whispering the direction of a fleeing Jew twenty five years ago, saw the tail of the white silk scarf and took it as a sign of forgiveness. As he left the Gothic cathedral and walked in the open promenade to the Rhine, the stones seemed to warm under his brown soles.

Jenn said...

For the past five years, Lesley Holloway has carried inside her pocket a folded slip of paper, bearing the shaky, scrawled words she’d written during her time on the residential unit up north in Nottingham, a single sentence to remind herself why she deserved to stay alive, a singular reason to keep bashing on: One day, I will be someone’s mother.

Coffee, Please said...

She never would have known if Brad had just emptied his pockets before throwing his jeans on the laundry room floor. But he hadn't; he never did. So, Molly was in the habit of checking the pockets before putting his pants in the washer. She always found something. Change, usually---but sometimes his car keys, the access card to his office, credit card receipts, and, once, a check for five hundred dollars that his aunt had given them as an engagement present.

Meg Spencer said...

It was the first day of the new month and the first day of Cat's coming of age celebration. For an entire week she was excused from her regular chores and duties. For an entire week she would be the center of attention. There would be feasts in her honor, storytelling and music. She thought about running away.

Creative A said...

Aria fell. Once, a long time ago, she had dreamed that the sky could catch her. She imagined that if she released her hold on the world, it would wrap her in a sun-streaked embrace and she would be safe. But now the sky was an empty thing, a sucking void. Somewhere beyond the howling of winds and the slashes of ice crossing her body, she heard the distant cries of Katka. The gleaming hull of their ship flicked in her peripheral. But that was all. The ship did not turn around. No one dove after her. They were too close to space, too close to the mirrored bowl that clung around the edges of the atmosphere. The Pass had already claimed her. She was lost.

Jennifer Alyx said...

“How could you do this?! What did these people ever do to you?” A brave, young, raven-haired girl stood firm against a force so evil that not even the elders chose to stand on her side. As she stepped closer to the robed man standing before her, she could feel her legs shaking, but she refused to stop; too much was at stake. “What did these people ever do to you? They go through each day, just trying to make it to the next; yet, you would come here and take their lives as if they didn’t matter?” Her eyes were starting to tear up as she thought of the people who had been killed by the man standing not more than 10 feet away from her. They were noble human and magical lives lost to the hands of evil, and it was obvious that he had no intention to stop there. His expression showed no remorse. His actions showed no soul. A fierce anger began to boil up in her heart and she knew that something had to be done . “No! I won’t allow this!” she said boldly, causing the man to laugh but he could see the seriousness in her eyes. “I won’t allow you to take one step closer to these people. If you intend to get to them, you will have to go through me first. And, I swear, it will be the last thing you ever do!”

ajcastle said...

How fun! I love these contests! My WIP starts with a few one liners before the first 'real' paragraph. I hope that's okay to enter!

**********************************

My body thrashed under the zap of the paramedics paddles.

The EMT raised a hand to my neck, searching for a pulse.

“Raise it to three hundred. Clear.”

Another violent flail rocked through my form which lay motionless on the hard, cold pavement.

“We’ve got a pulse. Let’s get her in the rig.”

I stood paralyzed on the shoulder of the road watching as a second paramedic rushed over with a stretcher. The sound of the wheels clattering on the uneven pavement grated in my ears. Fat flakes fluttered softly to the ground, dusting the pavement with a thin white layer, hiding any trace of the black ice below. One EMT grabbed my shoulders and the other took my feet, lifting me effortlessly onto the tiny bed. My wavy strawberry-blonde hair fanned over the crisp white sheets. Blood splattered on my pale face and clothing reflected eerily in the flashing red lights. I glanced down at myself, not a single tear or drop of blood anywhere. From what I could tell, I looked completely normal. Maybe I was dreaming. Had to be, there was no way this was really happening.

jonathandanz said...

I rode from the ruins of Wat Rahm on a collection of flotsam amid the swift waters of the flooded Yan River. The corpses of my brothers and sisters, the Jao Naam, bobbed and swirled past with a languor not of the waking world. Amchaara, radiant and horrible, had driven her spectral host like a battering ram, breaking our sluices and weirs and dams. Her wrath had loosed the river—and the magic therein.

Jacqueline said...

Early morning…again. Damn!
Like any other day, I was behind the wheel of my dilapidated Honda, engine still running, on the southwest corner of the school parking lot; staring into the tiny lose gravels inside the asphalt cracks. Not that I was focusing, I wasn’t looking for something to see; I wasn’t even aware that my eyes were open. My glance lost into the hollow, empty surroundings of nothingness. Nothing… was exactly what I felt: emptiness. I sat in silence while a few arrivals started to populate the lot. My life was in a very unsettling way like that empty lot, only one or two or maybe three memories at the most. I swallowed sourly, the words ‘chronic amnesia’ swirling in my head and I wondered how many times had my parents explained this. There was one memory that was more vivid than any other, the ache in my chest, the hollowness, the need to shout to the skies: give me my life back! This can not be me! I want it back. NOW!
Please…

rsgarcia said...

The technician screamed, the smoking stump of his hand smearing his lab coat as he held it to his chest. Through watering eyes, he looked up at the two soldiers standing over him, their faces hidden behind the wavering diamond reflection of distortion masks. The ship's flashing emergency lights limned their black armour, turning the figure-hugging contours scarlet, then black, then scarlet again. He could smell his own flesh cooking, and vomit scratched at the back of his throat even as pain tore his nerves to shreds. If he turned around, he knew he would see what was left of his hand lying on the floor of the corridor behind him. But there was no point in turning around. His hand was gone for good. And he was a dead man.

sarah said...

I have been sober for five days and sixteen hours and the tank is almost on empty and my daughter stopped talking to me forty miles ago, staring out the passenger window with her one good eye. Tomorrow is her thirteenth birthday and tomorrow I will think Thank god we made it and today I think Little bitch, that unholy child, who grows more like me every day; and it is true that more like me is not a compliment. My veins are empty and creaking with lonely want.

Robert McGuire said...

At the start of summer Alan kept proposing that they build their fort, for real this time. It wouldn’t be that hard. But so far, Brian just wrinkled his lip as if to say, “Naw, try again.” Brian was always the one to decide.

Cheree said...

(Young Adult)

Who am I? When someone thrusts their phone under your nose and shows you the pics they took of the fight, you won’t have any trouble spotting me. Forget the scared kid sitting in the background with her nose in the book. She’s trying to pretend she’s not there.

DG said...

Avery, Rivas, Garrett, and Mullen simultaneously reached for the upper lip of their helmet visors, each pulling down a pristine tinted fishbowl over their faces. Visor locks clicked. Cool flowing oxygen at 10.2 pounds per square inch seeped in with a steady hiss, imparting a far-off odor of plastic and greased metal parts. A breath in and a breath out counting off the seconds. Three liquid-fueled main engines beneath them, ready to devour 500,000 gallons of fuel in just over two minutes.

houndrat said...

Hi Nathan--thanks so much for doing this! Tons of great entries already.

I have a question (one which I hope doesn't have an answer so obvious, you'll ban me from the contest just for asking. :) My WIP starts with one line. I noticed others have sort of skirted this by adding the next part as well. Should I enter with just my one line, or include the next bit?

*confused*
Debra

mardott said...

A protest from his stomach brought Seamus Firnan from a dizzy dream to groggy consciousness. The world pitched and rolled, and his fingers grasped weakly at floorboards. He tried to open his eyes but when a hint of light stabbed his head, he gave up with a moan. Bloody hell, what had he been drinking?

T. Anne said...

There is a shift in your mental state when death comes to knock you off balance. You become the odd pendulum, swinging too quickly. The clock on the wall with hands spinning out of control, the haunted door opening and shutting at an alarming pace for no one in particular. It is a dimension within a dimension, of sight and sound, with no eyes and no ears. You are the worlds. They can see you, touch you, feel you. You are so real in their fantasy it is almost unfair. But there is balance. After all, this is an orderly universe, created by an orderly God, who gives consideration to his every form of entropy. For so long, I thought I was lost, meandering, a still life on some incomprehensible canvas, swimming in the torrential river of someone else’s dream. Shattered. I watched as He put together the pieces, dislodged the bone of grief that dammed up the words I was chocking on. The consolation came right on time but not before I walked through the valley of the shadow of bones.

Jm Diaz said...

Shortly before malevolence consumed her world, before the sanctity of her home was desecrated, and moments before her entire world was stolen, Victoria Santiago prayed. She prayed for silence. Golden streaks of light glistened on the sleet-covered windows as the sinking sun marked the end of another long day. Eleven-year old Jake darted down the hallway while his sister followed in hot pursuit. His explosive laughter swathed little Daniela’s pleas for her doll while Victoria poured herself a glass of vodka with a splash of orange juice to alleviate her stress. Her third in under an hour.

Irene said...

What had happened?
Blink.
Why was it so light?
Blink.
When had they moved her here?
Blink.
God, her head was killing her.
Blink.
This time, Maeve managed to keep her eyes open.
Only to close them right away again.
The ceiling was so bright.
Why was it so bright?
Trying to think back, she remembered the crash.
So she must be in a hospital.
Seriously.
A hospital.
Right?

Schoen said...

“Welcome to Madame Esmeralda’s, where your future is just ten dollars away.” Denny Bay delivered the familiar line just as she’d practiced it – a touch of mystery, a hint of boredom and a fake name. Her first customer of the day swept back the heavy flap of canvas and ducked inside the tent. Denny winced as early morning sun poured through the gap. Hundreds of tiny flames flickered in excitement, tickled by the small breath of wind. Bent over slightly to avoid brushing short, dark hair against the low ceiling, her customer paused to hold back the flap for a waif-like, apparition of a girl. Denny watched their movements, their expressions, their body language. After all, fortunetelling had nothing to do with a second sight or any of that hocus pocus crap. It was about reading people.

Karen said...

He tumbled through his parents’ bedroom door in such a rush that he nearly pulled the loose doorknob off with him. “Dad?” An answering grumble from the bed did not deter him. He clambered onto the four-posted bed and ignored the mutterings coming from under the quilt. “Dad, Dad, Dad, Dad, Dad?”

Amanda Morgan said...

Once a year, at exactly noon in Ashwood, Tennessee, we watch the sky go black. The street lights stay off and all of the houses draw their curtains. Today is that day.

Barbara said...

Devon stared at the dead body in her living room and tried in vain to call it an accident. Accidents happened all the time, didn't they? But buying the gun hadn't been an accident, and she'd meant to leave it on the desk, within easy reach, as if she'd known Mark would come looking for her. There was also the great hulk of a chalk circle on the floor with the ghostly imprints of her dance steps fading around it. That certainly hadn't been an accident, when she danced away her cheating ex-boyfriend's luck.

Chuck H. said...

She waited in the house ever so patiently until the box on the wall of the kitchen stopped giving her food. She even used her inside voice and asked very politely, just as Mommy had taught her. “Just because it’s a machine doesn’t mean you should be rude to it, Emmy.” So she always remembered to say “please” and “thank you” and the box kept giving her food until all the lights went out. After that, it refused to dispense cookies and milk or pbj sandwiches. It wouldn’t even let her have things that were supposed to be good for her like vegetables and liver. Finally, desperate with hunger, she disobeyed her mother’s last order. Dolly in hand, she opened the front door and walked outside.

Avalon said...

“You’re a dead man, punk!”
The cry reverberated off the towering alleyways, slicing through the smog that hung over the blood-spattered concrete like a ghostly curtain of uncertainty. Jase slipped through the shadows of the narrow brick alley, the carpet of Budweiser and Monster and Smirnoff crunching underfoot. He winced as his rapid steps exploded beneath him, alerting his pursuers of his presence. He had to hide. Now.

london-setterby said...

A young man with odd blue-black hair paused on the palace steps, staring into the open doors. He had argued with the archers for half an hour to get into the city gates, only to find the palace unguarded, practically abandoned. It was a strange siege: the usual reckless, chaotic fear reigned within, but the besiegers outside were corpses.

--
Thanks Nathan!

Lara Moretti said...

Jordan had signed off on women for good this time. He knew his friend Eric was only trying to help--again--when he'd set him up with Kristy the other night. Or was it Krissy? Whatever her name was, she didn't know the first thing about baseball. He'd spent half the game explaining the basics, like what the term "on deck" means, and why a foul ball was sometimes counted as a strike and other times not. She'd given him a blank stare, then touched him in odd places. His ear. His elbow. His knee. After the third time he'd pushed her hand away, she'd said all his talk about pitching, catching, and scoring was making her hot and bothered, as if he'd been asking for her advances. Really? He'd assumed otherwise. Like the fact that she was a whore. Make that, a whore who liked to buy overpriced stadium beer and hot dogs with his cash. What a waste of the best seats he'd had all season.

*****

This was too fun to pass up. I set up a Google account just so I could participate. Thanks for the opportunity!

~Jamie said...

No signal. Fabulous. I climbed halfway up the mountain to get one, and that just straight up sucked. My legs burned and my lungs felt like they’d collapse at any second, but I seriously needed to check my email.

Wandering-Quill said...

Sitting with his back to the wall, Gary watched Castor wander up to the bar, weapon displayed in clear view. Any man with thirty thousand credits on his head would do the same. It was unfortunate the bounty demanded him alive. Gary preferred dragging a corpse across the galaxy.

Michelle Marie said...

This was the first time in all the weeks he’d watched Kore that she was not with her mother. He walked to where she lay in the grass and pressed his hand to the soft flesh of her breast, taking great care to be gentle. She gasped at the contact and sat up with wide eyes but he was invisible to her.

Lynn said...

I opened my eyes and stared at the piece of pink chewing gum stuck underneath my dining table. I’d never seen it before, but then again I didn’t usually find myself on the floor gazing at the bottom of a table. The view was exactly what one would expect; and expanse of unfinished wood, a few screws, bolts, and the assorted bracket here and there. Perfectly normal, if not for the gum. I blinked my eyes a couple of times, and still it remained. Curious, though, that the gum should concern me more than the event that led me to crawl under the table, but it did. I turned my head to study it from a different angle.

Christine said...

There are two boats on the water. I am in the one boat, a golden Viking ship with lots of oars, fitted with cannon, pitching and rolling in the waves. The other boat is almost translucent, an odd grayish-white color. It, too, is a Viking ship. It, too, bounces like a heavy cork in the waves. But it is bearing down on my boat. And standing at the front, hanging on to the ship’s ropes like a pirate, and laughing wickedly at my fear, is…the scariest looking creature I’ve ever seen.

jamiemollart said...

At the very top sits the Cowboy. He is crafted from metal, although his base is plastic. This seems to be the wrong way round. The metal is heavier and yet it is the plastic that does the supporting. In the past this has bothered me, I have tried to understand why he would be crafted this way, when the opposite is more logical, but the train of thought leads nowhere, so I have buried it. I used to believe he was made of lead, but I’ve absent-mindedly chewed at his body many times, and despite the obvious difficulties associated with my present location I’m in rare health.

Laura Jane said...

Charlotte Brzenk's bungalow was simultaneously a prison and a sanctuary. She felt safe within the gray stone walls even though she was not able to step beyond them. On good days she could peer through the double-paned windows and appreciate the fifteen acres upon which the bungalow sat. More often, however, crippling anxiety forced her to lower the blinds and close the draperies against even those magnificent vistas.

Nikki said...

Middle Grade, Nathan!

There's one room in every school that no kid is allowed to enter: the teacher's break room. Teachers pretend they go in there to eat or talk on the phone. To take an innocent, ten-minute “break.” But I, Raymond Mahaney, fifth-grader at Rooster Springs Elementary, have discovered the real, diabolical purpose of that room. It's where the teachers go to plan how to “break” the students. As in, break their spirits. Break their hearts. Break their will to live.

alix said...

I got a paper cut as I handed in my last exam. I think that sums up the entire school year quite nicely. It was a fitting send-off. This was the summer when a robin was obsessed with our patio door, I had an incredibly brief fling with a piano player who couldn’t play piano, my aunt Josephine told me she was about to die, and I traveled thousands of miles on a train. I spent a lot of time in a place called Savage Harbour, which is not all savage, and barely a harbour. I was twenty and vehemently alive.

Karen Coombs said...

The picture text arrives minutes before lunch break. “U lk?” I read. “Wn2 c mor?” I puzzle over the photo. Then it registers. “Who-o-oa!” I whisper. My cheeks burn and my head feels like a firecracker about to explode. I cup my hands around the phone and check the sender’s number. No clue. But right then, in ninth grade English, my you-know-what—which I call the general, ’cuz it’s definitely in charge—tells me I for sure want to know who’s on the other end of that message.

Kate said...

I think my parents knew I was different before they knew what different meant. I definitely knew I was different. I’d play with other kids at the park, and instinctively knew I was looking at a different world then they were. I presented enough weirdness’s to catch people’s attention. I heard adults whisper the word “prodigy” so often I stop noticing.

Karen said...

“Ouch!” The hair elastic snapped and left a tiny welt on my wrist. Without bothering to glance down, I snatched a new one out of the jelly jar brimming with them on my counter. A few strands of hair split in protest as I tugged them through the rubber band before turning my attention to the closet. After sniffing an old pair of jeans and rumpled thermal top from the not-quite-dirty pile, I pulled them on. By the time Mom hung the fresh pressed New Student Ambassador shirt in my doorway, I had brushed my teeth and gotten back into bed. She always woke me up half an hour earlier than needed in the hopes that this would be the morning that I would grow a sudden desire to primp. This was not that morning.

sex scenes at starbucks said...

OMG, look at all these comments.

Here goes:

Trinidad tightened the magnetic latches on his chest armor as he strode across the churchyard, trying to shut down the anxiety gnawing at his gut. Denver was only thirty klicks away. Indigos wouldn't dare attack a parish caravan by day, not one protected by eight archwardens.

Tracy VB said...

Elgen House slept, dreaming of darkness and blood. When the cleaning and remodeling crews arrived, it stirred, but they only came in the daytime and left well before dark. The house drifted back to its nightmares.

Ardyth said...

Headmaster Atriz, Master of Evil, Professor of Crime, and dreaded ruler of Dark Lord Academy, sat brooding deep in the bowels of the castle that held his school. Normally, he preferred his light and airy office in the tower that allowed him a full view of the villainous dealings of school life below. But the demon pit in his closet needed repairs and he couldn't concentrate with the drafts of fire blasting up periodically or the clanking the repairmen made. So here he was, stuck in the dungeons.

TerryLynnJohnson said...

Rebecca whipped past snow-covered spruce, their dark trunks only a few feet from her on either side. The sled hit a ridge on the trail and flew, airborne for a giddy moment before it crunched back down. The wild pace made riding in the dogsled like riding a roller coaster through the forest. Rebecca grinned and felt her face crinkle in the cold air.

Holly Bodger said...

I was practically comatose when I heard my mother’s car come to a slow, crunching stop. And by crunching, I mean as in on gravel, not as in into a parked car. She hasn’t done that in weeks. Well, as far as I know.

Bobbi Ireland said...

For a spring evening, it felt cool. A slight breeze blew his hair. All of a sudden, he stopped. He heard a sound that comes from only one animal. Daniel tilted his head to get a better listen. It was an eerie sound, like a yelping cry. It was the sound a coyote makes. Daniel’s heart started beating faster. Now he didn’t notice the cool air anymore, he actually felt hot. He started breathing faster as the sound of the coyotes got louder and closer. Daniel started walking again. Soon he started jogging. He kept looked all around and hoped he wouldn’t meet the animals face to face. He couldn’t track where the coyotes were. Their sound echoed all throughout the darkness. Daniel started to run.

Empress Awesome said...

This diary belongs to Jeanette Thomas, a seventeen-going-on-eighteen glamazon (and sometimes nerd) who is fabulous but has never had a boyfriend or been kissed, and is hoping to publish this diary someday and make millions.

My first paragraph is a run-on sentence. How's that for a first impression? *epic fail*

Anaquana said...

Tears of blood dripped down the marble angel's face. Her stone head bent over the dead woman cradled in her arms as if in prayer. Blood spattered swaths of white satin cocooned the woman. A wedding dress. Her veil lay in the dirt at the base of the statue.

Alison Pensy said...

Faedra sat in the cushioned hospital chair that was positioned in the hallway just outside the room her mother occupied. She could hear the voices inside the room behind the closed door. One of them she recognized. It was the voice of her father sounding much more anxious than usual, talking with growing concern to whom she assumed was the doctor. The other voice sounded like it was trying to remain calm, but she could sense that bewilderment was bubbling just below the surface.

K. M. Walton said...

When I was little I used to think my grandfather had an important sounding name. I call him Pop, but his name is Mr. George Mastrick. It always sounded like a banker or business guy’s name. I’m sixteen now, and I know the only important things about my Pop are his fists. They’re big and they hurt. But I’d never tell him that. I even used to think my name, William Mastrick, sounded like I was somebody who mattered. My Pop decided to rename me Bull when I was five, said he didn’t want me getting any crazy ideas that I was someone special, that my name was something special. He said I wrecked everyone’s life when I came along, like a bull in a china shop. The name stuck.

Leigh Lyons said...

The box with my office supplies hadn't been on my new desk more than five minutes before the screech of the alarm blared in a head-rattling pulse. I jumped with the severity of it and looked up at the red light that went with the sound, watching it go from dark ruby to bright scarlet when the alarm was the loudest. This was not a good omen for my first day on the job.

cttiger said...

It had been four hundred and eight minutes since my last blast of caffeine and my brain was getting fuzzy. Not so fuzzy, however, that I failed to notice something wrong as I shifted the grocery bags in my arms and opened the door to our catering kitchen.

Ted said...

Stensin stepped sideways, out of the sand flak. In a broken ring the Malay boys watched, talking and laughing softly in the darkness. This turtle wasn't getting there. Fins sweeping the wet sand with the ferocity of pinball flippers. The sand flew, the seven-foot body swung, but the foot-high sand lip prevailed. Stensin felt a twinge; an hour's tireless flippering and only ten feet up the beach. The beast rested briefly. Stensin stared at the great dark mass silhouetted dimly on the sand, and its form dissolved away from him. From the corners of his eyes it emerged again. He lit a cigarette as the flippering exploded.

Alicia A said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

We were heading to New York to live deliberately. No contingency plans were made, nor were any reserve chutes packed. We harbored no desires to live with the “rats on the west side” or sleep with the “bedbugs uptown”. During our journey, we would have a five-star feast on the marrow we sucked from the cities bones; if we survived.

Michael Solender said...

I am a member of a dying breed. I am a child of the soil. I am a farmer’s daughter.

Larissa said...

Ugh. I hated reading. I looked at my copy of Dracula with disgust and fought the temptation to toss it in the garbage can next to my locker. That stupid book had been bugging me all day. Did Mrs. Kossoris seriously expect me to spend an hour or more reading the first two chapters of this thing? I sighed. Obviously, she did, because I was holding it. I chucked it into the depths of my locker and slammed the door. If I’d had any qualms about my new homework plan, that assignment wiped them away. The new plan was definitely on.

Joel Q said...

The snow along the trail was black as a raven. The burros’ manes froze as they lugged the ore carts up the hill. The January gusts swirled through the valley building snowdrifts taller than most men. But the wind did not sting inside the earth. It was trepidation that pierced the hearts of the coal miners. Even the seasoned workers feared the black tunnels of Gothic’s Jollytime Mine. They whispered and cowered as if darkness crept from the coal through their bones and into their souls. Death and mining were not strangers. But the corpse found yesterday had no blood. Not a single drop splattered the rocks, tainted the body or even lingering on the wound. That’s what the doctor called it, a wound.

Hobert said...

Olimpia lies bleeding at the ATM down the street from the bar. The cops take the video tape, but promise nothing. I ignore them and ride with her to a hospital in Harlem. By the time we get there, we’ve said our goodbyes. On her way into the OR, she arrests. By midnight, I’m on the street in a puddle of my own sick losing what little of my mind I have left. I know the case will never be adequately pursued because she’s not a blue-eyed blond on vacation from the Midwest. It is now our anniversary. I decide to celebrate by killing myself with champagne.

Anonymous said...

Spectacular.

~Anonysaurus

Laurel said...

Feeling satisfied I had captured every point, I set down my pen and re-read my list. I was creating the High School Code of Un-Ethics, those things that are never actually said but definitely implied. So far I came up with seven. There were plenty more but these few captured High School Life so perfectly. Personally, I had my own Code I had to live by—not necessarily by choice—seeing I wasn’t even remotely considered popular by any standards. In fact, it could probably be said Liam Moxen and his eczema were in better standing than I was.

Alicia A said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shel said...

I want to be clear. I am not a stalker, murderer, rapist, pedophile, or any other scary bad thing you might think of. Whoever you are. I only saw you that one time, dancing. I don’t even know which one in the group was you. Whether you’re the forty-year-old man or the twelve-year-old kid. But I need to find you. If it helps, I doubt I’m the only guy searching for you...that doesn't help, does it?

Susan Calistri said...

FEBRUARY

I have only one photo in my wallet. It lies alone, surrounded by receipts from the coffee shop, unused credit cards, and an occasional business card. Shot a little more than a year ago, on the gravel driveway outside the house, the photo captures my son Jamie in the act of stomping in a puddle after a long rain, red galoshes bright against the gray stone. I would have thrown it away along with the other photos, but I can’t bear to let this one go. It is the last one I put in my wallet. The last one before everything changed.

La-La-La-Laurie said...

I sunk in deeper, trying to push myself further to the edge, away from it all. I couldn’t concentrate on the feel, on my movements, on him. All I knew was the sweat dripping off my face and the tremor through my legs. Pressure—I felt pressure. He grabbed my arms and pushed, demanding more. I couldn’t give, shouldn’t have to. I didn’t owe him anything. I pushed back, carrying myself further and further away, simply rocking in a rhythm with my sweat…waiting, thinking. I clenched and every part of me ached. My thoughts unraveled and the distractions failed. A long bead of sweat dripped off my face and rolled down my body.

The Schnauzenator said...

“Come see the spectacle of the Universe!” The barker roared in near perfect Standard English, “For only two Pentavoes you too can experience the bliss of Khandra, the Lady of Archos! You there, Earthlings, come see the divine Khandra, five Pentavoes for the three of you!"

Ian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
amholm said...

Even though it was not entirely her fault, perhaps she should feel worse that she had broken someone’s arm. Rene swung her legs over the trunk of the downed tree then began picking her way through the jumble of Manzanita branches. Trickles of water from the melting patches of snow made the ground a big, wet, muddy mess. There was a moment of slight disorientation as her feet went in opposite directions and she landed hard on her knees. She growled in frustration and resisted the urge to pound the mud with her fists. Instead, she attempted a deep breath. The stiff leather vest she wore was laced too tight for effective deep breathing and her pants were getting wetter by the minute, neither of which improved her mood.

Pilgrim said...

A head is a deal heavier than it looks. That is one reason you do not want to drop it anywhere near your feet. Another is that it takes a long age to push it back into shape if it should fall on its sides or on the back. The face matters less, but the sides and the back take an age to put right and he almost always could tell if you had gone and dropped it while he was out.

Ian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Arlene said...

Surrounded on four sides, one of his long braids clasped from each direction, Boyron’s heart threatened to smash his ribcage into pulp. He dug his toes into the dirt, grounded by his clinging family. Granted, he’d not paid much attention during a hundred years of lectures, but this last minute advice was getting on his nerves. Not like it took intellect to lock molecules, target and jump. He’d either land on Earth or croak between dimensions and never see home again.

Ian said...

Tsetseg put on her most stylish, black and white, cashmere suit, quickly drank a bowl of tea and ate a slice of toast. She opened her Italian handbag and sprayed her slender neck with expensive French perfume, then hurried out of the door. Enkhtaivan dashed across the room, dressed hastily in his uniform and followed her.He came out onto the street and looked anxiously in both directions; a motorcyclist had to swerve to avoid him, and rode off into the distance, cursing. Then Enkhtaivan saw her. Tsetseg's slim black-stockinged legs moved scissor-like past the queue gathering outside the neighbourhood shop, but her high-heeled shoes slowed her progress and Enkhtaivan soon caught up with her. She waited at the bus stop, pouting at a stick of mauve lipstick, in front of a little huddle of young army conscripts, as they passed round a cigarette. Enkhtaivan hid behind a white Lada. One part of him wished that he could walk up to her and take her home, but when the bus came, he stepped out and boarded automatically.

Amber Hamilton said...

Drew Stockton’s mind raced through years of memories. Each smell, each feeling whirred by stronger than the last. His mind closed on an image. Jane Hart. She felt close enough to touch. In this moment, the last of his life, Drew understood more about Jane than anyone he knew would believe is possible. Jane had known. Her eyes had glowed with the knowledge of what was coming. Drew imagined all he could have prevented if he had understood. Yet, if he’d had the chance to relive his last month moment by moment, smell by smell, touch by touch, he realized…he might not change a thing.

CDR said...

The old van in the woods had been rooted in middle school lore since ages past. An age in middle school is about three years. The most popular tales were the ones involving murder. A man had murdered his wife and left her body in the van. A woman had murdered her children and left their bodies in the van. A man or group of men had kidnapped a girl, killed her, and left her in the van. Terrorists had killed someone important and left his body in the van, but the government was covering it up. The last story at least explained why the green 1994 Dodge Ram, with untold numbers of human remains inside, sat ignored by the authorities, rusting in a wooded area outside of Memphis, Tennessee.

christicorbett said...

Every Wednesday morning Kate stood on the same front step, steeling herself for what she would endure over the next two hours. Every week she hated it, and every week she knocked anyway, continuing a long-standing tradition.

Steena Holmes said...

She wasn’t alone. Footsteps skulked towards her. A deep vibration could be felt from where she sat on the cold cement floor; slow and heavy. A whimper broke the deafening silence. She shook as each step drew nearer, fear threatened to consume her. The air held the nauseating stench of sulfur. It lingered and settled into the pores of her skin. Trying to escape the permeating odor, she twisted her head. The acrid smell worsened as she felt an icy chill tease her left cheek. Until now, the deep jarring pain had barely registered in her mind. Movement caused it to intensify and added a new sting; a sharp object was tore into her cheek. She felt the blood drip onto her bare shoulder.

K Catalona said...

It looked more like a postcard than a crime scene. I walked slowly and respectfully past a line of hastily parked police cruisers, their cabs empty and their emergency lights still spinning. The police were up ahead milling around a spot near the water. I hung back with a small crowd of tourists who were watching the scene with stilled voices and arms folded above their fanny packs.

Helen said...

Violet narrowed her eyes as Nick's hand twitched. Her shoulders and back tensed. If he was stupid enough to try anything, she was more than ready to throw him face first into the wall. Everyone would wake up, and Nick would get into trouble for storming out, and Mother would roar at Violet for using her strength against him. It'd be worth it for the look on his face.

Ann E. Bryson said...

The pit in Victoria’s stomach was as deep as Apple Quarry, the abysmal lake on the outskirts of town whose waters were black and bottomless. The setting sun was leaving behind a chill, so she wrapped her scarf one more layer around her neck. But it wasn’t enough. Dim white lights stretched from the coffee shop almost to the gas station and through the square. They hung from bare trees and clinked together in gusts of wind. Four girls had met in town one last time before heading their separate ways for Christmas break. Victoria was dimly aware of her friends talking nearby, but she was lost in thought. “We just lost touch.” Why? How?

Mystery Robin said...

I had three goals that summer. Number one - have a blast working as a video game tester which is arguably the best job in the entire world. Number two - get Daphne to fall in love with me. Number three - finish writing my computer game thereby inevitably winning the Hardwire Academy PC Gaming scholarship so that this summer would essentially go on forever and my life would be one of eternal bliss with Daphne... and video games.

Anthony said...

Ezekiel did not lead a normal existence for a sixteen-year-old. He understood this only when Sister Lucinda made an unusual and quite uncommon announcement at dinner: “I’m pregnant.”

T.M. Lunsford said...

It is a truth generally acknowledged that a young woman is going to have a romantic ideal from an early age. We’re bombarded with movies filled with images of Prince Charming rescuing the damsel-in-distress and carrying her off to the castle to live happily ever after- although we never really know what that means. Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve been fascinated with romances. Part of me has always thought that romance was in my blood; I am descended from at least four generations of high school sweethearts. Even when I was too young to form coherent sentences, I would sit for hours watching these movies where the beautiful girl fell in love with the beautiful boy and they went on to (supposedly) lead the perfect life together.

Paul Allen Leoncini said...

By then, the din awakened with the slam of a door, and the steady clap of foot fall approaching from beyond view, from beyond the dirty glint of dawn. Then a great looming shadow appeared on the adjacent wall with the appearance of a tall eloquent woman dressed in white lab coat, and pointed high heels. Around her was some form of identification and one of those rectangular electronic keys. A brunette, hair pinned back beautifully revealing the face of a frown.

Aimee said...

I knew from an early age that mom liked to keep up appearances. Once she was decorating a cake for one of her big catering gigs, and she baked this huge square cake. When she turned it out onto a board to squeeze on the icing, the cake was lopsided. I remember tilting my head a little and closing one eye, but the slant didn’t go away. Mom never said a word to me as she took a knife and sliced two Twinkies into tiny cake bricks that she stacked under the sad, sunken corner. Then she covered the whole thing with icing. When she finished with all her icing tubes and knives, that cake looked normal and square and very unsunken. I knew then that mom knew some tricks about appearance. That is probably why she hides out back to cover up that she’s been smoking again since Grandma set fire to her house.

Eliza T said...

I overslept the day I was due in court.

Chris Eldin said...

Oh, you poor man.
But I can't resist entering also!
:-) Thanks for the levity!

*****

My art teacher, Mrs. Kreger, has a face like a horse. Six long, stringy hairs on her chin. Big yellow teeth, fat lips, and saggy skin. Did I mention the mounds of shaggy hair? Every day she walks into class with twenty-five paintbrushes stuck in that hair. She barely makes it to her desk without spilling something on her chair. Then she makes a show of sitting in whatever spillage has gathered throughout the year. Stoop. Wriggle. Plop. You could say she’s gross from top to bottom.

Paul Neuhardt said...

Tom Braxton's Monday began exactly where he should have been and exactly how he expected it to progress. He was in his large and comfortable suburban Boston home, in his king sized bed with the three inch pillow top mattress and next to the wife he loved very much and who adored him in return, even when she felt he was suffering from what she called “testosterone poisoning,” a condition covering a wide variety of mental and romantic lapses. The klaxon of the alarm clock shattered the silence precisely as planned at 6 o’clock. That was it, though: Normalcy vacated Tom’s life the moment he shut off the alarm.

Jens Porup said...

        Sin.
        I don't believe in God but I believe in sin.
        Every morning I wake to trumpets declaring my sins, shaming me with my failings, shouting my regrets in a chorus so loud that the discordant noise drowns out the faintest strains of love or life.
        That's why I live here. The open sewer of humanity, where turds like me from round the world come floating to the surface. I belong here. I belong with the thieves who rip gold from bloodied earlobes and the transgender whores who suck cock in the park. I belong with the corrupt cops who'll squeeze you for protection then beat you for the hell of it. I belong with the taxi drivers who pass counterfeit notes and the bus drivers who'll run you down for sport, a city where sons steal from their mothers only because their mothers taught them first the Golden Rule: Do Unto Others Before They Do Unto You.
        This is the city of garua, the fog, the smog that blankets the city, thickens the air, smothering us in a miasma of pollution, contamination, a vile mist in which we walk like ghosts along the street. Here, no one looks too closely at your face. Here, you can hide. Here, I live with fellow sinners more depraved than I.
        There's nowhere else I know that feels like home.

Charlotte said...

My name is Chantelle Magdalena Cloete and I am a spoiled white South African. At least, that’s according to my news editor, Zacharias Patel. “Stop sitting around on your fat white privilege, Maggie Cloete, and make your editor some coffee,” he likes to say. Bastard. The funny thing is, I used to be the coffee and photostat girl, until one day there were no journalists available to accompany Craig Bromfield, the Gazette’s hot but deeply dyslexic ace photographer, to see a giant marrow, so they sent me. I admired the marrow, took down the farmer’s name accurately, wrote the caption correctly and have been a journalist ever since. A journalist, but still making coffee for that rat of a news editor whenever he demands it.

Amy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alicia A said...

It was sweltering hot, even for Texas. Beads of sweat were running down the crease of my back causing my clothes to cling to my skin. It was the kind of heat that blurred vision, distracted thoughts, slowed time. We were sitting in the courtyard with the other lethargic teens, silenced by fatigue, choosing the fierce sun over the demons that lurk in the air conditioned buildings.

"If this ain't hell," Xan said rolling his sleeves onto his shoulders. "I don't know what is."

This was hell, but heat had nothing to do with it.

shannon said...

This Friday night you can find Vance Jackson in the same place you’ll find most of the other first year cadets, at Gatekeeper’s Tavern. The first of his family to go to college, in just a few weeks at the country’s most prestigious military academy, Vance has been through rigorous physical and intellectual exercises at the hands of the most disciplined officers in the South. Now it’s time to blow off some steam with his classmates.

Liz said...

I heard the scream, and realized that it was my voice. I jumped before I was even aware that I was leaping—my aim towards that man. He was a rather small man—thin, slight, and not very tall as well, and he was pointing a small, black, metallic, L-shaped item, which I thought had to be a weapon because of the way he was brandishing it. A loud “pop” sounded from the direction of the weapon, and I reacted. My leap found its mark—I slammed into the man and we both began to fall over. My hip made a bruise-worthy connection with the man’s hand and the hard weapon as we both fell towards the ground below us, but not before the weapon had discharged.

Barbara M. Britton said...

She had been told death would be peaceful, it would most likely happen when she slept and the bright light she traveled into would seem like Juneau in mid-June. But as she stared into the enraged eyes of her father, his hands squeezing her throat so no air could reach her lungs, the sour smell of whiskey bathing her face, she felt it had all been a lie.

Philangelus said...

If the customer was any more in my face, I'd be tasting her mouthwash. "You were supposed to give an estimate!"

Alea said...

Insanity ran in our family. After thirty years, it finally caught up with me. As I sped through Penn Station to catch the Boston train, the world around me vanished in the blink of an eye. I raced right into the mouth of a giant serpent—and came to a screeching halt. Sharp teeth with rust-colored stains, at least two feet long each, boxed me in to either side as I stood in the mouth, my feet planted on a forked tongue glistening with saliva.

ancilia said...

Artie reached across his coffee stained desk and unplugged the phone. He realized some would construe that as being optimistic. It hadn't rung all week and Artie had no reason to believe it would ring today. Business was non-existent, but he didn't care. He was going to take a nap and didn't want to be disturbed. He looked at the Goodwill couch and smiled. Forty dollars and free delivery. Artie loved a good buy, and the offer of free delivery had sealed the deal.

Lisa Iriarte said...

Narrow, brittle bones protruded from the hard-packed earth, lining the walls from the dirt floor to the tunnel’s ceiling. Disembodied skeletal fingers reached for me, clawing their way free of their rocky prison with each tremor and landslide. They caught on sleeves and pant legs wherever the passage narrowed, drawing the living to the deceased one thread at a time. Stumbling blocks in the ground beneath might be mistaken for stones and rocks, but closer inspection revealed the polished caps of a thousand skulls, their tops rubbed to shininess by boot-clad feet.

Leigha said...

I was normal in so many ways. My best friend Crystal and I loved to do the typical girly things together like, getting our nails done, going to the mall, and talk about boys. I even looked very normal, painfully normal in-fact. I am five feet-five inches tall, I am not thin, but I am not what would be considered fat. I have red hair that is very wavy that goes to the middle of my back. My eyes are blue. To look at me I look very normal. No one would ever suspect just how different I am. And although I have been raised knowing the truth, it’s still hard to believe sometimes that I am not so normal. It is yet to be determined how abnormal I am but the odds do seem to be stacked against me. You see I am somewhat of a mythical anomaly. My father was a vampire. If this doesn’t sound strange enough, my mother was a succubus.

Jennifer said...

Watching her baby sister adjust her shoulder-length veil in the narrow mirror, Elisabeth smiled sweetly. “You look amazing. Ben will fall over when he sees you.” The low-ceilinged dressing room in the back of St. Helena’s church was small and ill-lit, but the traditional beauty of a bride always overcomes such small inconveniences. The muffled sounds of arriving guests could be heard through the old, stained oak door, along with the soft strains of the string quartet. Grace grinned back over her shoulder at her older sister’s reflection. “As much as I cannot believe I am about to get married, I also cannot believe you are leaving tomorrow!” Leaning in close to the mirror, the young bride studied each eye in turn to make sure no mascara had smudged. “You are the last person in the world I would imagine moving to New York City!” Grace lightly remarked, in what to her was simply a sense of genuine surprise and a slight confusion. She did not understand the implied insult in her comment, although Elisabeth was aware of it. Elisabeth maintained her smile, looking down at her bouquet. “This is your day, Grace, don’t think about me leaving for one second.”

sherilynwinrose said...

Walker leaned against the Davenport hotel, one booted foot propped on the building. The tingle of fall brushed his cheeks. He inspected his fingernails as if he had nothing better in the world to do. Sydney wasn’t going to make this easy on him. Easy wasn’t her thing.

Allison said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lori said...

The heat simmered on the balcony over the Via Margutta as if it was staging Dante’s Inferno. Hermina Jorgensen tossed the June issue of Artista Ufficiale – which she thought particularly lackluster – at the foot of her chaise. She wiped a bead of sweat from an eyebrow, tipped a glass of wine back to her lips. She’d been warned about the heat. At a new employee reception overflowing with passed platters of pungent cheeses, a fraternity of Rome Times editors had pulled her aside. “Surrender, bella donna,” they’d said, their eyes piercing into hers. “Coping with the sun is like tiptoeing past a drunken slave master. Travel the streets only when necessary, divert your eyes.” Abandoning glasses of Sangiovese half full, they walked out into the night. “And watch behind you,” whispered one as he brushed past her.

florkincaid said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amy said...

I watched them rip the ground into strips, scattering shreds of grass and remains of roots. The sharp crack of compost bags snapping open followed the varied shrieks of women as their hands absorbed the dirt.

PLA Anderson said...

Two miles deep in Forest Park, something moved out of the corner of my eye. Unnaturally fast. Fear consumed me. I begged my legs to run faster. My heart pounded like a drummer beating a rhythm in my chest. My lungs could hardly keep up. The strong cedar in the air made my throat hurt. Running past the large pine tree; just one more mile. My ears heard a swishing sound and the distinct cracking of branches. Nearing a complete panic, I glanced around the trees, trying to see what was chasing me. Every shadow, every tree moved by the wind, played with my mind, tricking me to think they were the threat. I rounded a corner and tripped on a rock sticking out of the dirt trail. I flew upward. Before falling, I hit something—hard.

Sarah Rattenborg said...

I can't remember a time when it's felt completely normal to set the dinner table for four. I know it used to be, but it's been so long. Right after he died, I would grab four plates, four sets of silverware, four glasses out of habit when Mom told me to set the table. But I never got all the way to the table: halfway there, stack of four plates in my arms, I would stop and look for him in the kitchen where he was always cooking dinner. But I didn't see him, as I knew I wouldn't (but hoped I would) and I went back to the cabinet and put one plate away.

Nikki Raasch said...

Ethan had spent the last few weeks trying to convince his mother that at least one item in his Back-to-School wardrobe should have an invisibility function. She had answered the same way each time: “Darling, it would be so silly of us to spend all that money on an invisibility jacket if you don’t even know yet whether you’ll need it.”

Lydia Sharp said...

Mother had a saying, "Swallow your fear today and excrete it tomorrow." But I don't think she'd ever once felt real fear. Not like the fear that tormented me now.

-----

From my second science fiction novel, Mirra.

Eric Christopherson said...

I, Miles Trenowyth, write down this record at the goading of Dr. Horace James, practitioner in the newfangled black art of psychotherapy. Robbed by an injury of my ability to speak—at least at this time—I am unable to partake in the so-called Freudian talking cure. Thus I am induced to vomit my soul across these pages, to recall and recount in detail that which I would smoke an opium pipe to forget—Nay, every pipe in Chinatown!—given the chance.

Dan Geilman said...

My name is Thrash Hammer Mason and no, that is not a mistake or accident. I chose that name myself when I was five, right after my father died. It was a mistake when Dad named my big brother after himself, Franklin Mason Jr., and then spent a few years wondering why everyone called him ‘Jar’. Dad never had a clue. By the time I was born/pulled out of the oven, he was so preoccupied with his work that he flat-out forgot to name me. I honestly thought my name was ‘Son’ until Dad died and Jar and I took off. Lots of bad debts were being called and life on the run was better than being sold on an auction block. Jar probably would’ve gone for a lot. I probably would’ve only gone as the free toy that went with him.

Anonymous said...

(younger middle grade)

When I was six, I, Kendall Grabowski, tried to break a world record. I wanted to be in that book with the name that looks kinda like “Genius.” I figured my collection of rubber duckies would give me my best shot at the world record. I had ninety of ‘em – some tiny, some big, but all awesome and super cute. Every night, I’d choose a different one to float in the tub with me. Since I had ninety, that was three months worth of ducks. Of course, months with thirty-one days messed me up. And don’t even talk about February. But then I found out that there’s a lady who owns thousands of rubber duckies. She’s already in that world record book. There’s no way I could ever beat her, even if I used every penny of my allowance for ten years to buy more ducks.

Ayodele said...

My name does not matter, just as countless other names matter even far less than mine in this shit hole we all call home. Lagos pulses with the energy of a mammoth beast. The city sleeps and then wakes, with sudden strength and throws us all – inconsequentials – into frantic activity. We are trapped inside this leviathan beast, Melville’s Moby Dick – as it moves, we move. We rest a bit when it is still… (If you can call a catatonic trance in a sea of acidic embryonic waters – rest)…and ever so often, Moby Dick opens its humongous jaws to entrap another motley bunch of unwary seafarers, adding to our sorry numbers. No one gets out of Moby Dick, not even when dead. The bones remain there forever, bleached to a seething white by the acids. For the few who get out, it is pointless. There are numerous other whales in the waters waiting to get you. Moby Dick is just one of them, but few cities rival Lagos in sheer size and terror.

Eric C. said...

Connor thought at first he had just watched too much television over the years. He was over thinking it for sure. After all, lucid thought was a serious challenge with a mix of marijuana, painkillers, beer, and red bull and vodka coursing through the system. So, he didn’t do anything and went about getting ready to go to sleep for the night. He was brushing his teeth, after a long day of work and even longer night of partying, when he heard a commotion coming from the hallway. It sounded like people were wrestling around and slamming into the walls. He paused the back and forth of the toothbrush to listen closer and heard a familiar voice yelling his name and pounding on his hotel door. Connor sensed something bad was going to happen despite his attempted ignorance and altered state. Connor quickly discarded the toothbrush and spat in the sink of the plush hotel bathroom, slipped into his jeans, and hurried to the door to see what in the hell was going on. He peered through the peephole very briefly just to make sure this wasn’t a setup. Connor’s co-worker, Paul, was leaning against the door exasperated. Connor quickly flung the door open amid more slamming and hurried knocking. Connor pulled Paul into his room and quickly glanced down the hallway in both directions. “Dude, what’s up!?” Connor said as he closed the door. “Those bitches tried to choke me out!” Paul screamed. “What! Who?” Connor asked, but he knew who Paul was referring to. Paul, visibly shaken, explained things choppily while gasping for breath. He insisted multiple times they go after his attackers. Connor steered Paul back to the explanation of why he was standing in Connor’s hotel room half naked, out of breath, and had been slamming on his door yelling for help in the middle of the night.

J.F. Posthumus said...

Arms bent slightly and crossed at the wrists, Iliana bent backwards a few inches, her left leg posed as though she were going to take a step forward, her auburn hair swaying in the light breeze. A classic pose of a belly dancer, Iliana could have appeared to be practicing the sensual dance her petite form would have been perfect for. Except for the three-headed hydra in front of her that was rearing backwards preparing to unleash it's breath attack.

katiebowden said...

The hour before the earthquake was utterly unremarkable. Twelve year-old Ned Bixby threw on some clothes, swooped past the breakfast table – mumbling a quick thanks as he grabbed the last piece of toast and jam – and as usual departed the home of Fred and Eunice Allenby as fast as humanly possible.

mythicagirl said...

A woman is a weapon. Her hair shall be braided or long flowing, not only as an enticement for males, but to use as a noose for strangulation and thick enough to conceal poisonous thorns. She should possess a soft, willing mouth to coerce a kiss, while housing an object sharpened to inflict the utmost pain. Breasts can and must cradle a dagger, fingernails need fortification with metal tips dipped in toad venom. The only tears that dare flow are those of elation at our victories, verily, for females to rule Second Earth unchallenged, remember this doctrine well my sisters; The tyranny of man must be defeated by the treachery of woman.

-My post apocalyptic, steam punk battle of the sexes (not to worry, its got romance in there)

Derek Osborne said...

God never mentions he might stop by one evening. Another one of His/Her habits is making sure everything is going well for a time prior to such callings. It was that way for Bailey Jones. Her ratings were up. She was in the middle of a story that promised to bring down one of the largest developers in New York, with tie-ins to 911 and illegal ocean dumping – a national news story. It would be her Water Gate, her Love Canal. Her days as the local anchor and young hot shot were ending. Her days of kissing serious network ass were just beginning. She never dreamed of solving the greatest disappearing acts of the century, that in less than six months her life would topple a dynasty—she had never trained to think that big—but that made her perfect for God’s little mission. God was not looking for someone who might see the end game. God was looking for Bailey.

Danette said...

I run my thumb over the fat jagged rock I’ve hidden in my Parade robe. Some parts are pointier than others. I let my thumb rest a little longer on those. I close my eyes and pray that it will be those parts to connect and do the most damage. Even though I’ve been practicing all week, today I’ll only get one chance to throw it. I have to make sure it’s good and strong. There’ll be no do-overs.

Selestial said...

Used to be, on an average night patrolling, Cass and I wouldn't find anything. On a busy one, we might've stumbled across a vampire taking advantage of some homeless person. We'd send them on their way and end up back in bed before one in the morning so we could wake up in time to catch the school bus. But tonight … tonight on patrol we followed John Reyes from a park and found him walking into the automatic door at Sears.

richfigel said...

Steam rises from a delicate bowl as hot water mixes with brownish-green powder inside it. As he watches her prepare the tea, the old Japanese man thinks: Everyone is addicted to something. Tastes. Sensations. Rituals. He lights a cigarette, smiles because he knows the fortune teller’s next question -- the same question she always begins each session with.

Cate's Folly said...

When I pull the blanket back and get my head under there, the tssszzzzzing sound is louder but no sign of my homemade radio. Instead: a crumpled sock, a busted Oreo cookie, and a small ball of fluff, what my mom calls a dust bunny. As in, “We’ve really got to vacuum in here, Jack. Those dust bunnies are starting to look like tumbleweeds.” It's the, quote, unquote, dust bunny that's making the tsszzzzzzzing sound. And I swear I'm not making this part up: it's flashing orangey-red like the anti-collision beacons on an airplane .

Kristine Paton said...

Kate sat on the floor of her living room surrounded by mounds of paper, stacks of photos, letters, post-its, ripped magazine pages, ribbons and remnants, bags and boxes; all of which were now sorted into some semblance of order. Every flat surface in her home held a bit of this or a bob of that; her clutter drawer had evolved into a clutter house. Clearing clutter was not her forté, accumulating it was: a skill she had acquired from her father; the late, great, consummate collector of all things one might need some day. Sadly, dear Dad died before he could use any of it and not long after, in a grievous moment of rebellion against the fates, mourning Mum tossed the lot. So long, Dad.

Elaine 'still writing' Smith said...

The first time he had peered through the gates of the overgrown garden, to the pile of bricks cemented together by vines, it had reminded Tom of some sleeping princess’s forgotten castle. He had tried to decide which was worse: the fact that he had been talked into coming over to Chelsea for a bit of wilful destruction or that he was standing outside a rotting building thinking about damsels in distress. Tom rubbed his head against the metalwork until it crumbled in protest. Rust clung to his damp forehead and his shaking hands, “You dragged me north of the river for this?”

Writerperson said...

In the cool hour before dawn, Ray leaned over the metal rail of a bridge somewhere in the mountains of north Georgia. His hands shook but he managed to hold on to a heavy plastic bag. In it were the clothes he had been wearing that night, his credit cards, driver’s license, Kinko’s employee ID, grocery and drug store customer loyalty cards—everything except his wallet and six hundred dollars in cash. The bag was weighted with a rock he had pried from the dirt back in the pull-off where he’d changed into his hiking clothes.

Here I'll go by: Ash. Elizabeth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dorothy L. Abrams said...

Belgae Warrior rode easy for me as I followed Alain on his little gelding Elfin. The lad led two horses taken on the hill outside of Orton. We would present them as tribute to my liege lord William de Lancaster when next we saw him. This day I pressed the limits of my body and was in danger of breaking. Our skirmish with four rogues on the Shap-Orton Road had poured the iron out of me and left the dross, but I was pleased to have done so well. Four horses and a dozen blades. If we had ridden alone without Sir Callum Fraser our mettle would have been tested more severely—me with an old wound that ached as if penetrated by magic along with a Scottish dirk and Alain an untrained crofter lad more suited to farming than to fighting. Margot and the other witches had healed me well, but time had not completed the mending. I had pushed hard; it was too soon to be in a fight. Callum and Alain knew it. There was no hiding the truth.

Amy Sue Nathan said...

Evie never expected to get divorced, let alone sit Shiva for her ex-husband in a house with a Christmas tree. Yet there she was.

Blank said...

The new girl was short and plump. Another fat chick. Surprise, surprise. She didn’t walk, but waddled like a duck pumped up on steroids. Not that I’ve ever seen a duck on steroids. What kind of sight would that be? A fucked up one, that’s for sure. Excuse my language. But it’s kind of liberating being able to say things like that without being scolded. Swearing is accepted here, encouraged even. Something about releasing rage or expressing emotion or something. One of the few perks.

Anonymous said...

OMG! 50% of the participants don't know what constitutes a paragraph!!

Redleg said...

His back to the brick wall, Jack Pasternak contemplated the discordant row of bayonets and gun barrels pointed at him. The cord binding his wrists was a little loose, but even if he managed to pull a Harry Houdini, he wouldn’t get more than five paces before being gunned down like a rabid dog. His options were die momentarily or die instantly. Neither was particularly attractive.

A. Randall said...

I’ll readily admit hell spawned every Thursday – solely to make my miserable life worse. The day before my twenty-third birthday proved no exception. I spent three hours during the morning in the Dean’s office, receiving his weekly lecture about how freaks like me weren’t suitable for employment at such a prestigious University. Not even as a lowly assistant. I was more a glorified secretary, but didn’t want to quibble points.

LouiseD said...

His curiosity had got the better of him, again. He’d overheard the guards mention level three, now here he was outside the last secure door. He stroked his hand over the metal panel, white paint chips catching on his calloused fingertips. What was behind it?

Amy said...

At first I thought Mother had brought Father’s clothes downstairs to comfort us. Anna and I had been hiding since our uncles carried Father’s coffin out of the house, but when Mother came into the sitting room with an armful of suits and pants, we crawled out from under the sofa. Suddenly all I wanted to do was press his favorite shirt against my face. Maybe it would still smell like him. Maybe it would make this horrible ache inside me go away. But Mother went straight to the fireplace and threw them in.

Labyrinth said...

Alexandros lunged, ignoring the risk of over extending himself. He was desperate to take advantage the weakness in the other soldier’s defences while he had the strength. His muscles burned, but bright blood bloomed across his opponent’s thigh where it was exposed above his greave. The man stumbled, it was all the opening Alexandros needed. He swung his sword again, long inured to the wet thud as the bloody blade ripped the man’s throat open.

Kara said...

(YA)

I am running though a dense forest, and the branches claw my thin nightgown as I crawl over thick roots which rise up out of the ground like large fingers, waiting to trip me. My heart beats in time with the pounding rain and as I turn my head, I see him. His inky shadow creeps closer. He's gaining on me. The terror tastes like metal in my mouth.
He can not catch me.
He will never have me.

I had the dream again.
Only this time, I could feel the clods of dirt as they cut open the soles of my feet. Slowly I open my eyes, and see that I am in my room, the four white walls somehow soothing as a beam of sun shines in through the dirty window. I pull the covers up to my chin and rest a palm against my chest, feeling my heart steadily thumping through the sheet as it gradually, mercifully, slows.
I hate the night time.

bc said...

I hate flying.

Sara Kankowski said...

The sun stared down at her, making the back of her neck prickle.  Aranelle Serenson could feel her skin freckling under the sun's bright gaze, turning blotchy pink.  By the time she managed to escape the town square and the celebration, she knew she would be sunburned.  It was as though her body forgot that she was supposed to be a Grain Valley girl: hardy, tan, calloused.  Every summer she fell into the same pattern.  Burn.  Peel.  Burn again. Sixteen years of the same.  She sighed and reached behind her to pull her hair off her neck.  I'll not listen to Mama again, she thought, no matter how she battles with me.  

KayKayBe said...

The dawn bent to kiss my bare face before spreading in an arc of light across the orchard below me. My hands caressed the silvery bark, then gripped it when the breeze whistled through the oldest of the sacred trees. The smell of green wood rose from the branch that quavered under me. An image flashed through my mind--of robes billowing out as my body bounced from branch to branch, then crashed on the ground. I pushed the fear away--it would bruise the geroth fruit as surely as a fall.

Catenabi said...

The phone is ringing.

It's the Grand Opening of my first restaurant, Chez Roxy. The phone is ringing. I'm standing in the middle of the crowded dining room watching as people eat and smile. The food critics sitting at Table 4 are high-fiving each other and hugging the waiters, begging them to bring more food. The phone is ringing. I've poured myself into a dress that makes me look thirty pounds lighter and five inches taller. My date, Johnny Depp, leans over and whispers in my ear, "My love, the phone is ringing." I wake up when Johnny's soft voice is chased away by Izzie screaming at me from Ollie's room.

"Roxy, the goddamn phone is ringing!"

Jade said...

The flight was torture. New York to Sydney in seventeen hours whilst seated next to an overweight mouth-breather, who reeked of garlic and cheese gone bad, should have been illegal.
Unfortunately it wasn’t.
The highlight of trip was undoubtedly when I discovered that my neighbour had the uncanny ability that allowed him to simultaneously breathe and chew loudly.

Blank said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Yushan said...

??? why can't I find my last post?

if anyone can find it, delete it please.
-------------------
"No! Now leave me alone!"

Another door slammed shut. I guess no one can get customers on Christmas eve if you're just selling matches. After leaving their 14 year old daughter on the streets, I'm sure my parents have plenty of money for alcohol now. Even so, I'm not exactly a millionaire myself at the moment. They're so drunk, they always forget my name. I guess I just got tired of it all. So, one day, I packed up my things and began selling various items on the street. Most people confront me with a shrill "no" when I show up on their doorstep. There was a time when I thought I could do this. A time when I thought fending for myself for once would be a good challenge for me. Looks like I was dead wrong. Emphasis on dead.

Tiffany said...

Last week my brother announced that he is going to run for president in the year 2036. After weighing the pros and cons for several days, consulting the stars, and reading a couple of political pamphlets, I have decided that, yes, I will vote for him. I guess I can overlook the following childhood offenses:
1. Throwing the remote at me when he was nine and BARELY missing.
2. Erasing my Zelda game out of pure jealousy.
3. For bringing home from a Scout overnighter a day-old bottle of root beer filled with Oreo backwash, putting it in the fridge, and then proceeding to drink it at dinner that night, much to the dismay of everyone present. I still cannot drink a bottle of root beer without that unpleasant image in my head.
4. The fact that he is a HUGE Star Trek fan. (He’d better keep that one hush, hush.)
5. The year he was in second grade his teacher made my mom and I volunteer in his class practically every day because he was so out-of-control. I didn’t get to watch much T.V. that year.

Deniselle said...

My tenth birthday changed my life. That was the day I got my first Tetris console. There were all sorts of other gifts and cakes, as well as the usual fuss. But for me, the party began and ended the moment I first gazed upon straight lines (I like to call them Patrick), S shapes (Selena or Socrates, depending on which direction they point to), squares (Squentin) and the hanger's nook ones (Horace and Horatio - they demanded to be given similar names). From that moment on, I had no other aspirations: I would become the world champion at playing Tetris. I don't know what might have become of me had I not received the game, but I did, and things worked out the way they did. Here I sit now, ever in my chair, listening to the sounds of the former mad house, turned by Senbad's unwielding compassion and discipline into a house for castaways and losers. We all have one thing in common: we are, at least in some people's eyes, hopeless causes. Senbad specializes in that.

Lis Garrett said...

I was a fifteen-year-old freak. At least that’s what my fellow sophomore classmates, and possibly the rest of the entire student body, thought of me at Fingerlakes High School.

MJ said...

Last night's whipping gusts had threatened every building on Everett Cline's homestead and tore his crops apart. The fields looked as if he'd sown it with trash. Picking up after the storm's aftermath on the windless summer afternoon gave him a pounding headache, making him wish for eternal rest. He swiped at the sweat droplets lingering along his hairline. If only a breathe of Kansas wind would return. He closed his eyes to keep the blackness blurring the edges of his sight from toppling him over. When his legs felt steadier, he threw the last torn piece of tar paper onto the haphazard pile of scraps. He had to stop. He plodded to the nearby pond while unbuttoning his shirt. Kneeling on the dusty bank, he reached for some of the murky water. His sticky tongue begged for water it could taste.

sylvia said...

"I was nine the year the aliens came to Dünnendorf." Sigrid's eyes were filmy, grey-white hair lay limp across her pink skull. "I remember it exactly. We had a school trip to the zoo. I was in the ice area, watching the penguins splashing through the dark blue lake." Her ancient rocking chair creaked as she rocked back and forth, eyes half-closed.

Sharen Ford said...

Miranda was never quite sure how she'd finally summoned the courage to ask the question. It had remained hiding behind a door in her mind like a nervous child for so long. Perhaps it was simply that the time had come to act like an adult. After all, the only reason Cleo was in Connecticut, and vulnerable to confrontation, was because she'd flown from England to celebrate her daughter's fortieth birthday. That being the case, it was probably poor timing.

Sash said...

The problem with dares is they always go wrong. I’m not talking horribly, fatally wrong. You know what I mean - the, I imagined this differently in my head type wrong. And then there’s the problem of what to dare. There’s just not that much you can dare here. A space station has few avenues for excitement. A space station has so many rules, but mostly one punishment. So instead we do stupid dares. Meaningless dares. Dares that take up your time, but don’t change your life forever. That’s what I thought anyway. Trouble is, sometimes you don’t realize things are changing, until they already have.

wendy said...

The doors of wood and glass rumbled apart, and a sweet-faced young woman appeared in the opening. Under one arm she clutched two coffee-table sized books, their covers sparkling with the magic of flower-decked nymphs and elfin-faced sprites. With her free hand she fiddled with the key in the lock until both doors were bound together.

P.A.Brown said...

I tucked Nattie into bed and gave in to her demands for a bed time story. El Mejor Dia de Pooh, the same one I read to her every night. She drifted asleep before I reached the end. I paused and when she didn't wake up, smiled and brushed a strand of hair out of her slack mouth. With a murmur she rolled over. I pulled her Pooh blanket up to her chin. It wasn't cold, but since the shooting, Nattie didn't sleep well if she wasn't covered head to foot.

Kevin said...

Lavender Jensen clenched her fists and drew a deep breath as she studied the forest before her. Neither parent had told her where she was to live: here, at the farm where she’d been dumped, where she knew no one other than her father, had no friends, and little by way of entertainment—certainly no shopping, which was a disaster as far as she was concerned; or back in their usual home in a comfortable southern Perth suburb, where all of those things were abundant. The farm was twenty-six kilometres by winding dirt road from Denmark, a picturesque seaside hamlet on the south coast of Western Australia. It may as well have been a thousand kilometres—or two-thousand—because she was surrounded by a forest about the size of the country of Denmark, her mobile phone didn’t have a signal, and there was nothing to do—except her father expected her to work in his displaced-animal shelter.

Christina Adams said...

“Hello. My name is Caryn and I only have one week left to live.” I stop and stare at the digital recorder in my palm. Then I press delete. I’ve spent the last hour trying to think of what I should say. The officials told me they want me to record my thoughts, feelings and anything else I would want the world to know after I am gone, but I can’t find a good place to start.

onefinemess said...

A scruffy young white man stood at the end of the walkway, trench coat shifting in the drizzle. His shadow stretched down the walkway towards the entrance, carried by the last few rays of the vanishing sun. His fingers twitched with nervous energy, and he cycled his feline claws in and out, in and out, as he pondered the door and its guardians. Squares of bland grey cement two feet on a side led to the glinting, clinically polished steel door – and between the two impressive gargoyles flanking it. He sniffed the air, smiled and moved forward. He carried himself gracefully, brown leather shoes silently striking the cement.

GhostFolk.com said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lady Glamis said...

Awesome to have another contest, Nathan! I'll sit this one out for obvious reasons, but good luck to everybody. There's some great stuff so far!

Haste yee back ;-) said...

Middle Grade Novel...

Title: Garn.

Late that night when he’s sure his Mom and Dad are asleep, Danny and Garn sit on Danny’s bed. They’re silhouetted against a circular picture window. Distant twin burnt orange moons hang in a star filled sky, setting Danny and Garn awash in a soft orange glow. Danny’s bedroom is a combination science lab sleeping area. All sorts and sizes of beakers, test tubes and bottles bask in the orange light. A twirling crystal DNA helix reflects the glow showering the room with small shards of bright tinted orange light. Garn puts his left arm around the boy. Danny shoulders slump under its weight. Danny looks up into Garn’s deep purple eyes and says, “It’s the only way!”

Haste yee back ;-)

Maree Anderson said...

Karylon called the lightning to her and immersed herself, bathing in its heat, feasting on its luscious effervescence. Power seared through her particles, renewing her. Enticing her. It took all her considerable will to defy its siren-call, to hold a tiny part of herself separate from its lethal embrace. She wrestled with the wild, volatile energy and reined it in. Anticipation hummed through her as the immense power at her command swelled, approaching flash-point. It fought and bucked, striving to ignite and explode and— She unleashed it.

Melissa Blue said...

There is a special place in interior design hell for people like this. Hazel Garvey dropped her purse on the cherry wood desk. She readjusted the cell phone crooked between her ear and shoulder. With her other hand now free she touched the lid of her right eye. No, it wasn't twitching, but by the end of this conversation it might.

Jennifer Parker said...

This one time a boy in my class told me he was gonna kill me. I didn’t believe him though, he was just mad cause I stole his gum. He shouldn’t have kept it in his desk; everyone knows you don’t keep any valuables in there because of the kids like me. I don’t think he should’ve got that mad though…I only chewed one piece before teacher caught me. She stood right next to me and looked down with her beady eyes and long witchy nose.

heather said...

I was ten years old the day I met Peter Lucas. I had just moved to this tiny, God forsaken town and had been ordered out of the house by my stepfather. “Get the hell out of here, Lucy,” he had snarled, shoving me out of the dingy screen door. “I don’t want to see you until it’s dark, do you hear me?” Even at ten, I pretty much knew why he had kicked me out. My mother was in one of her rare happy spells and, despite the bastard that he was, I knew he didn’t want me to have to sit around, listening to all the things they would do behind closed doors.

Elizabeth said...

The next item up for bid, an inked-splattered scrap of no-nothing parchment, had lured the most rabid collectors to this obscure auction house on the wrong side of the Thames. They hovered like a murder of crows in the cramped, musty room, a blur of black frock coats and silk top hats, desperate, lusting men who clutched auction catalogs like finely honed rapiers, all lethally eager to capture the Holy Grail of Shakespearean ephemera: a scrawled bit of unknown verse, written in the Bard's own hand.

Beth Aldrich said...

In silence, a warm tear rolled down my face and landed into my ear as I glanced over at my husband who was holding my hand. He didn’t have to say a word because it was written all over his face. Silently my heart intuitively heard, I love you... your face looks beautiful, regardless of the scars... our children are so lucky they didn’t lose you in the car accident today -- as am I... everything will be okay. Then, I felt his grip on my hand get tighter as he quickly removed a tear from the corner of his eye.

Sarah Scotti-Einstein said...

The steady thump thump thump of the headboard was replaced by a less rhythmic, more insistent, knocking on the ceiling. Leo slumped back into the pillows and sighed.

Michael Pickett said...

Guys in my line of work are supposed to know that a brown-haired dame that comes knocking on your office door in the middle of the night is bad news. I had learned that lesson the hard way too many times before. That’s what makes me wonder why I took Mrs. Cheryl Roth’s case when she came knocking on my office door that cruel April night. Maybe it was the wallet in my back pocket getting thinner every day. Maybe it was the envelope stuffed with cash she waved under my nose. Maybe it was the half-empty bottle of scotch on my desk. It could have been any one of those reasons or some combination of all three. But when I’m honest with myself, when I drop the excuses, I know that it wasn’t the money or the booze that made me take Mrs. Cheryl Roth’s case. It was her dress.

Terri said...

The car was doing sixty-five miles per hour when it flipped. Metal crunched against metal, igniting sparks across the highway. Jesse squeezed her eyes shut and braced for the impact. Her body hurtled across the backseat like a discarded ragdoll. The back window’s glass shattered against her skull as the car rolled to a stop in a shallow ravine. The smell of gasoline filled the air. Panicked, Jesse struggled with her seatbelt, trying to unclasp the latch. A shadow fell across the car. The man stepped forward and crouched beside her door. “You should have left it alone,” he said.

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