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:

«Oldest   ‹Older   601 – 800 of 2650   Newer›   Newest»
soldiersparent said...

“Oh, shit,” where my first words there.

Until that moment, everything had been going smoothly. My team and I boarded a c-130 from Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas and arrived in Ireland. Not that we were able to play tourist. We had more important work to do. Immediately, we flew to Kuwait, were fifty soldiers crammed into three shanooks (helicopters with two blades) - each with one turret gunner to scout out the area below and headed to Iraq.

LauraT said...

Katya opened her eyes to seven Delza warriors looking at her as if she'd fallen from the farthest galaxy. She tried to swallow, but her mouth was too dry from farga dust and fear.

Susan Quinn said...

BYRNE RISK:

Kate Byrne scowled at his beady purple eyes. The murinda peeked from behind an empty beaker on the glassware shelf, his pointy nose sniffing the air. Her eyes flicked around her lab. Where there was one fur-ball on the loose, there were bound to be more. Duncan is so gonna pay for this. The tag on the murinda's tiny paw showed his number, but she recognized his shaggy green fur and the black spot encircling his eye, like a miniature pirate patch. She lifted her hand up to him, palm open. “Come on, one fifty seven,” she whispered.

Candy said...

While Carl Smite was wrapping loose change, a cell phone in the back room of his antique store rang. His body jerked forward and he almost dropped ten dollars in quarters on the floor. He was sitting on a gilded Louis IV chair, behind a large French Empire desk with detailed inlays and bronze ormolu trim. There were price tags with large numbers in bold red print on both pieces of furniture. Everything in his antique store was for sale, including the nineteenth century cup and saucer he used to drink his morning coffee.

kerribookwriter said...

Paisley Barton was already having a bad day but things went from bad to worse after she turned her cheating husband into a sewer dwelling rodent. It really was an accident. She’d been planning something more along the lines of a dirty little opossum like the ones that she so often saw dead along the side of the road.

E. Lopez said...

“Oh, shit,” where my first words there.

Until that moment, everything had been going smoothly. My team and I boarded a c-130 from Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas and arrived in Ireland. Not that we were able to play tourist. We had more important work to do. Immediately, we flew to Kuwait, were fifty soldiers crammed into three shanooks (helicopters with two blades) - each with one turret gunner to scout out the area below and headed to Iraq.

Celina Summers said...

After eight years on the professional stage, my return to Columbus felt like a colossal failure. I’d supported myself; I had a good reputation and a strong résumé. But I hadn’t reached that final rung—the heights of Broadway had been denied me. I gave in to my parents’ half-embarrassed pleas and returned to my hometown. As a result, they promptly deluded themselves into believing that I was over my ‘infatuation’ with the theater. Actually I was nursing my wounded ego and trying to figure out why I had failed.

Andrew said...

This is a story you have heard before, though you do not know it. At night, your dreams are filled with stories, and this is only one of them. But unlike most of those stories that are individual to you, your own personal dream world, this story is one that everyone has dreamed. Its details change from dreamer to dreamer, but the story, the story never changes. All other dreams are purely false, just as everything you experience in your waking life is purely true. But this story is neither one nor the other, and because of this it is more true than truth and more false than falsehood. This story is what keeps you alive. The next time you wake up and a dream is slipping through your memory, take one image and fix it in your thoughts. For example, the image of a boy on a wall.

Lin Wang said...

The morning skyline glowed with the pale, sickly shade of rotten peaches. Jagged shadows crossed Fianna’s face as she dashed towards Campo dei Mori, Square of the Moors. Silver domes and golden spires towered in the distance, nothing more than illusions – facades cast by the power hungry noblemen that robbed her of a father.

loriG said...

The sun glowed large and low in the west. Spatters and streaks of red painted the late summer sky. Alexa Shaw stood on the back porch, hands wrapped around a mug of steaming hot coffee, watching the final sputters of daylight wane to make room for the night. With the brilliant sunset as a backdrop, it was clear that at forty-two she was still a devastatingly beautiful woman. Looking at her, no one would see the shadows that haunted her. They would never guess at the unspeakable horrors her vibrant sky blue eyes had witnessed in the last year. All they would see was a calm facade, a picture of elegant beauty and grace. A heavy sigh welled up in her chest and the aching grief she felt was exhaled in a mist of pain. The idle thought crossed her mind that the lawn must have been cut earlier in day when she attended her parents memorial service. She could still smell the hint of freshly mown grass. Her mother’s roses stood out in stark beauty against the lush green. It was all so familiar, yet completely foreign at the same time. She might have come home, but she was now a stranger in a sea of familiar faces.

Janet said...

It was dusk, the last tentacles of red-orange sun tipping the once blackened, stripped hillside to play softly and lightly upon the old red dog road, now devoid of the coal slag that gave way to that euphemism, as it passed beneath the teetering chute of the old coal washer crossing high above it, long unused, creaking unsteadily in the wind. In another era since past, the men of No. 9 Mine had worked this area but now grass sprouted along the hills they had once mined and across an enormous slate dump no longer emitting the smell of rotten eggs as it had when its interior smoldered incessantly, but still devoid of trees unwilling or unable to return. Not even the tiniest of saplings braved the old hill.

susaninvt said...

Snow banks surrounded the rectangular island of artificial grass. The pallbearers approached using the snow-blown path, their cheeks red from the cold. The crunching of the snow beneath their boots punctuated the sounds of grief. Kathryn glanced at her dad’s lifeless eyes as he stared at the casket.

riay_night said...

A rogue wave of paranoia washed over me, dragging me into its obsessive depths, strangling my previously held thoughts; a typhoon wrecking havoc upon the village of my mind. At the core of this tempest, in the eye of this storm, one fact resided, no matter how inexplicable: Someone was watching me.

Anne said...

“Would you forgive me if I’d done something terrible?”

It was a strange question, Nora knew, but she didn’t really care. She came to this conclusion as she scanned the small page in her hands, which looked to have been ripped out of a journal or notebook. Flipping it over, she read the back, which contained another brief scribble:

“I didn’t know what you wanted. Please finish my story.”

A Paperback Writer said...

(From my YA WIP)

I sat in the shade of the blue spruce and listened to the traffic noises coming from way down the hill. Grandma Helen had been right about this place; pretty much nobody was going to bother to walk all the way up the dusty road to get here. Her plants grew safely inside the iron fence, away from the deer. Here it was no big deal to pick the coyotillo I needed to mix with the sagebrush because nobody could see me or ask questions. Well, nobody living, anyway. There were 23 dead bodies in the graves in front of me, after all. But I doubted they cared much what I was about to do.

Robin Cain said...

Frank Campelletti’s balls ached. The ‘boys’ (that’s what he called them) had been complaining ever since he’d gotten out of bed that morning. Must’ve strained them in my workout yesterday. Uncrossing his legs to provide a little extra room, he made an effort to appear interested in what his assistant was now saying to him.

riay_night said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dennis said...

Passage by greatship, rounding the Hand of Skies from Haldor or Renivere, or by lugger across the bay from Fenwalk or Tinsley, brings one sailing into an army of navies, the ordered chaos of Thessalon Harbour where dwell skiffs and schooners, brigs, brigantines, and barques, hulks, hoys, ships-o-war, ships-o-the-line, canoes, persons clinging to flotsam, the opposite, and a hundred more species of floating thing, all slapping and bobbing at the feet of Thessalon, City of Kings.

susaninvt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sherry Way said...

I saw her at the end of the road, new girl, didn’t catch her name. What the hell was she doing walking home? Nobody walks home from school when you live way out in the sticks? Okay, I was but—I had my reasons—guess maybe she did too.
The white powdery dust off the dirt road covered my jeans, huge rocks made it hard to walk, it was hot, I was sweating, trickling down my neck, trees casting shadows down in front me, her long dark hair swinging behind her back, she heard me coming up, turned around, slowed down so I could catch up, I wasn’t rushing, I wasn’t in a hurry to get home either.
“Why you walking?” I ask her, long brown hair flowing like water over my shoulders, the light hits Hershey kisses eyes, chocolaty skin as she turns her face to look at me.
“Guess I could be asking you the same thing?”
Something passes between us, a knowing, a truck starts rumbling down the road, kicking up white powdery dirt, we jump the ditch, into the field, dry thirsty grass all around, we jump back onto the road, when the dust settles.
“Not in a hurry to get home,” she’s looking down the road, but not seeing the road at all, “mom and step-dad are at work—my dad comes by.”
We both have are backpacks hanging over our shoulders, they keep slipping down as we walk down the rocky road, I know what she’s saying, even though she’s not saying it.

Josin L. McQuein said...

Time works different in purgatory. I'm absolutely certain of this. Sure, they call it Geometry and there's a man in slacks at the front of the room instead of some red guy with a pointed tail and pitchfork, but it's still torture. And after forty-one minutes of equilateral something-or-others getting mixed up with isosceles what-cha-ma-call-its , I want to strangle myself with a hypotenuse.

Miss Tammy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paulette said...

Thirteen years after the War, Elvis Presley, accompanied by his parents, reports to the Memphis Draft Board. “Tequila,” not an Elvis recording, is Number One on the Billboard singles chart. Manuel Rodriguez, owner and manager of El Bodega on 103rd Street, between Broadway and Amsterdam, plays the record at full volume for the whole month of April and half of May. Anyone living on that block, in fact, anyone walking down Broadway, hears the song loud and clear. “What does it mean?” Sam Goldberg asks his wife, Miriam, every time the shouting of “Tequila!” interrupts his reading of the Yiddish newspaper. “I don’t understand one word, not one word.”

Alexandra said...

From his position near the door, Chase watched the game of cards unfold, his eyes rarely leaving the young man who sat in the dealer’s seat. The cards flew from the man’s fingers as he dealt the hand, then flipped up three in the center and began the game. Chase stood there, unmoving, waiting for someone to vacate a seat. Bets went around, and the dealer flipped another card. Someone folded. After the final card was turned, Chase thought he saw a twitch in the dealer’s eye, a barely perceptible flick of his gaze, as though he knew he had the hand.

Robert said...

High within the Eternal Peaks, beyond the ken of man and most immortals, there is a stirring in the air. It is more than a mere wind—it carried with it the weight of ages and the scent of a freedom that most souls could never experience.“I am sure that we should not be here, brother.” The words, whispered as they were, still cut through the silence that hung like a malaise in the air. In front and peering intently into the shadows before him, Brunor started at the unexpected sound, but seeing that his brother was fully absorbed by the sight before them, he straightened to his full height and walked forward with a bold swagger. “Nonsense, Turren. We are gods and no place is barred to us.”

blayne01 said...

This is the first chapter to my new christian suspense novel "Breaking the Yoke of Darkness"

The sound of the leather strap whistled through the air as it came down, repeatedly across his back and legs, lying motionless across the bed the young child prayed that God would intervene and miraculously stop the attack that held his small frame in paralyzing pain. As the strap came across his backside for the twentieth time all he could do was hide his face in the pillow to muffle the sound of his sobbing. Then suddenly the ordeal came to an end. The tall figure that towered over him lowered the strap to his side and left words that would burn into his memory for years to follow. "I am going to beat the devil out of you. If that means you get beat three times a day for the next ten years do you hear me?” All the little boy could say was a weak “Yes sir.” He knew better than to even look up at his father because this would be interperted as a sign of open defiance and would lead to more strikes from the strap. He had been instructed to always look down and away from his father this was to show respect. A child was not allowed to look a grown-up in the eye. So with his eyes lowered to the ground he listened as his father reiterated how evil he was and how the devil himself had a hold of his very soul. A condition that his father was determined to eliminate, even if he died trying.

Kathleen MacIver said...

“Look again, Gianna,” a voice said, echoing over the girl. She paused, then stepped over the newly-broken pieces of granite and into the shadows and relative safety of a nearby doorway to glance around cautiously. Children clung to mothers, looking uneasily overhead as they hurried through snow drifts to the other side of the street. Men cursed the government that allowed buildings to crumble on top of their wives and little ones. But none of them were among those few who knew her name.

Chazley Dotson said...

There was a doorframe, and on the other side of it was Nicole Montgomery’s only chance. This was the last address on the list. In the light that trickled in through the workshop’s windows, a man polished a thin, dark wand. As her eyes adjusted, Nicole could see the inscriptions etched in circles around the wand, symbols carved deep enough to last for a magician’s lifetime.

Miss Tammy said...

John Davis smelled like Play-Doh. When we were in elementary school it wasn't a big deal. I mean, we were kids. Play-Doh was pretty high on the awesome scale. But there comes a time when a guy should stop smelling like fluorescent colored modeling clay and develop a more manly smell, like campfire or gym floor.

Tc Clarke said...

Two guys are standing on the flat roof of a building; one of them is trying to capture the play of smoke and sunset over the cityscape that stretches to the ocean beneath them. The other guy walks over to the canvas; he sees that the brushwork is sloppy. The painter is using a brush that is much too large for his canvas. He asks, “Why are you painting with that?” And the painter replies, “Because this is the only brush I have.”

The Celebrated Author said...

((My slightly ironic account name is self-mocking. If it's confusing to refer to me as such you may call me Margaret Ann.))

I have no memories. I know things, but I don't remember them. I know my name is Beatrice, though I don't remember ever being called that. I know I believed in a god, though I don't remember being in church. I know I have a family, though I don't remember them, and I know I loved them, even though I don't remember why. I know I wanted to live, but now I'm not so sure.

Catherine Misener said...

The first time Abigail saw him was at her fifth birthday party. He sat on one of two matching chairs. Abby sat on the other. He wore the same party hat as Abby—green with blue stripes and red stars. And each time Abby tore through the wrapping paper and held up a gift, he laughed and gave her a smile. All grins and happiness—the little boy in his Sunday best with not even a crumb of chocolate cake or a smudge of frosting on his face to mar his perfection. Abby never figured out his name. She simply thought he was yet another cousin from out-of-town, the kind you only see at parties, holidays, weddings and funerals. She saw him again at her fifteenth party, a much less heralded affair, and suddenly realized he wasn’t some distant cousin or a friend of the family. He wasn’t remotely familiar. Or even remotely alive.

Samantha Barnes said...

How do you know if you’re normal, really normal? Like the man standing next to you on the elevator normal, or the cashier who scans your groceries, normal? Glenn Garrett wondered if they pricked his finger would he would pass the litmus test for normal or would his blood reveal the anomaly he felt coursing through his veins. Tiny little abnormalities surging through his body multiplying each night he dreamt of her. What would happen if they reached the watershed moment? Could he stop it from happening, would he want to? Glenn pushed the thought from his mind. Of course, he would stop it. He didn’t want it. It wasn’t normal.

LoriStrongin said...

Talbot blamed his mother for the fact he spent most of the summer impersonating a nun.

Megoblocks said...

Seventy-seven paces to the brazen bull. No more. No less. Alicia eyed the monstrosity from a lone, wooden barrel. It stood proudly in the center of the town square, an imported icon of meted justice. The morning sun glinted off its metallic skin, no doubt warming it to the touch. Underneath the beast kindling sat, doused in oil, and awaited a simple torch. Dark sockets replaced the eyes and bored all the way to its hollow belly, giving the bull an ominous look. Alicia knew the real reason was far more sinister than artistic intent. It had been done to let the steam escape, to let the crowd hear the cries of victims inside.

A&J Writers said...

He is alone. His hands shake, the tremors not borne of fear, but of excitement and anticipation. The smell and taste of blood are in his nose and mouth and throat, gifts from the carrion queen herself. He has prepared himself for this moment, this night, through prayer and fasting, through diligent faith.

Mary said...

Quinton Kemp stared at the ocean, hands on hips, jaw set. “Why the hell did I take this job?” He kicked at a rock, shuffled one foot further into the sand and watched the grains slip over leather. “I hate the water.”

Jan said...

Maggie stood in the foyer, pulling off her gloves and then her coat, and considered how little the war had changed things at home. The aromas of roasting turkey and autumn spices seeped from the kitchen, and she could hear Cook’s whisk scraping the gravy pan and the clink of china as Alfred laid out the dishes. Today would be like all the Warner Thanksgivings as far back as she could remember -- except, of course, for the small matter of the bombshell she planned to drop on her parents.

CindyLou Foster said...

Spring Break was overrated. Okay, maybe if I had the kind of family who was doing something cool like skiing the Rockies, going to Disneyworld or even journeying to Guatemala on a missionary trip to build houses for the poor, maybe then it would have had a little more appeal. As it stood, I didn’t have much to look forward to.

Anonymous said...

Holy shit... you have to read all of these? Thank god I'm not a literary agent!

Frontline Ink said...

Frank Hardy grew up poor, black,and in the segregated South. He remembers a kid from his predominantly black neighborhood swimming with him in the Alabama River, coming over for meals, and staying the night in his home. When Frank’s brother told him that his friend was white, he didn’t believe it and argued the matter until his mother confirmed. To Frank, white people were the rich folks in town, not the poor kids in his neighborhood.

Hillary said...

It’s almost time. Tisiphone claps her hands in glee, giggling girlishly for the first time in several decades. As she waits for the witching hour, her eyes begin to pour blood and her smooth copper hair transforms into writhing snakes. Her careful urgings do not fail, the clear blue eyes of the pale mortal with the dark hair begin to droop, and the eyelids slowly close like a lift bridge after the ships have passed. Soon her mouth falls open and she is snoring slightly in scratchy harmony with the dog sleeping on the Oriental rug next to her. Tisiphone is pleased with the heavy state of slumber that has fallen over the dog and his master and she admires the beautiful weaving of the antique floor covering in the mortal’s home. The flowers and vines are so finely wrought they seem to be growing around the unconscious human form, undulating with the flickering flame of the dying fire.

Sage said...

Eric was the biggest playboy trapped in a virgin's body I would ever know. To watch the girls line up and wait for him when he entered the high school grounds, you would think he was sex on legs. But, nope, he was completely chaste, out of necessity. That was probably part of the allure.

Cristin said...

Nimli gazed into the blackness and listened to the sounds which had disturbed her sleep: the clicking of horses’ hooves, men shouting, and the shrill, hair-raising barks of hounds. She knew she must get up, that something was terribly wrong. Throwing off her feather blanket, Nimli stepped out of bed and onto the cold floor. Her candles had long since gone out, so she groped her way along the stone wall to the window and pushed aside the heavy curtain.

Elspeth Antonelli said...

This was certainly not the first death to have occurred at Baverton Hall. Through the centuries its stones and bricks had broken under the ravages of war, reverberated to the sweet plucking of lutes and stood sentinel as history passed by and through its grounds. Fevered arguments had echoed through its halls and the main lower hall had been the site of each Earl of Baverton’s wedding celebrations and other luminous gatherings. The east corridor on the ground floor had been the location where the fifth Earl had stammered his love to his future Countess, and further down the passageway a passionate consummation had taken place. The main bedroom (known as the Queen’s Room) had absorbed the groans of generations of Countesses giving birth to the next generation of Bavertons; the third Earl had been born in the Queen’s Room at exactly the same time that the second Earl was dying in the Master Suite. Marjorie, the current dowager Countess of Baverton was fond of remarking to her guests that the history of England was in the walls of her ancestral home. However, this was the first time that an Earl of Baverton had been murdered.

Loretta E. said...

My fingers froze over the computer mouse. ‘Reggie’s got out early.’ I couldn’t move to roll the message up or wipe it off the computer. I tried to take a breath but I couldn’t get one in or out. I’d signed on to my email account to see if my new agent had managed to do anything in my favor or if I’d be consigned to the bottom of his list. He needed new clients like I needed Reggie back in my life and I would hazard a guess that having my previous agent’s clientbook dumped on his desk courtesy of a midlife crisis that sent her to a fertility clinic did not make his day. Neither did it make his day to get me back.

Kate Karyus Quinn said...

The rule is simple: always steal anything you can, except, never steal what your heart wants most. My uncles call it the Moby Dick rule, even though they’ve never read that book, or any other one. Each of them has his own story about the exact objects that led to their ruin: a‘69 Mustang Boss in metallic blue, a gold Rolex, and a pair of cowboy boots with a silver lightening bolt running down the side. Having never been a ‘follows her heart’ kind of girl, I didn’t think this rule applied to me - turns out I was wrong.

elissa said...

It’s strange how a plan can unfold sometimes--an umbrella shooting up at the touch of a button and extending out in all directions quickly, effortlessly. In so many ways, this journey is exactly the wrong thing to do. I mean, what kind of daughter leaves her grieving father and takes off across the country for no reason, or no reason she can say out loud? But I look at Katy beside me--I see her clutching that book like always, the bright flash of her blue toenails on the dash, and I can’t help but smile.

susiedec4 on twitter said...

somehow, bobby b. and i ended up in my satin-sheeted bed, on acid, my boyfriend, bob t., downstairs at my open house high school beer fest. we were 16 and may still be...emotionally. sexy bobby and i kept slipping in and out of each other and in and out of bed. it was hysterical! in the mele,i lost the pearl earrings boyfriend bob t. had given me but somehow thought it was fitting. or, i guess, not. wasn't all i lost that night. but, gee, what i gained! now, 35 years hence, we've facebooked about that night. wonder if our individual children have been as lost and found.

Chris Carney said...

The sun was beating for entrance on the sheet of plywood that overlaid the gaping hole where the picture window used to be, before Cue drove his fist through it.

Jodi said...

As Robert sat on the back step removing his cracked work boots, a cloud of cinnamon sweetness drifted toward him. He tossed his boots under the white wicker rocking chair and inhaled deeply. He trudged into the kitchen in his stocking feet, followed by the bang of the screen door slamming behind him. He peered into the oven. Empty as the deserted kitchen.

Emily White said...

Nathadria had decided to leave Hell. Or rather, Sho’ful, the prison ship she had been trapped in for the past ten years. She just hadn’t decided how she was going to do it yet.

Carolin said...

Teja rubbed the grit out of his eyes after a night of tossing and turning, and he squinted against the early morning sun’s glare off the bare whitewashed walls. The day had dawned cloudless and bright, promising to be hot. He dipped a piece of wheat bread in the bowl of moretum on the plain kitchen table. Normally he enjoyed the flavor of fresh cheese seasoned with pungent garlic, herbs, olive oil and vinegar, but this morning he hardly tasted it. Aunt Gertruda set a clay cup with water beside him on the table. He knew she would think him rude, but he couldn’t bear to look at her, not now that he understood how truly ill she was. The disease showed in the translucency of her skin, the bruised eyelids and the faint bluish tint of her lips. She struggled to breathe normally, and Teja wondered whether he imagined the faint rattle he heard every time she took a breath.

jessieharrell said...

“SADIE! SADIE!”
The crowd roared my name as I pushed open the wooden shutters and stood at my second-story window. Their deafening cheers surrounded me like reverberating dread.

Mariel Anderson said...

Holy Spicoli, here's my entry to add to your reading list. Thank you for this opportunity.
________________________________

I had seen it before. One shot through the head. Echoes rang out in the distance, and the red halo blossomed where angels knelt to weep.

OWASM said...

His car drove up, giving all a chance to move away from the scene. Adam Lott, chief homicide inspector of the city of Morgosa, pulled his aching body out of his car. He hobbled to the scene of the crime and looked down at the body. “Who found this?” he asked to all in hearing distance. “How can someone kill a ghoul? Carmen, come over here and see if you can sense if there’s any lifeforce left in this thing.” Adam coughed and gagged as he shuffled as fast as he could from the awful smell.

Mariah Irvin said...

“Ew! I stink!” The boy sitting next to me in Calculus had odor issues, but if I wasn’t able to read his thoughts I might not have noticed. Okay, I would’ve noticed. He was sitting under the air vent, and he was pretty ripe. If my dress had sleeves, they would’ve been held under my nose to block out the musky scent that surrounded me. I moved my desk away from his with as much nonchalance as I could muster.

KimC said...

Inside the abandoned warehouse he looked at the naked woman wrapped in bubble wrap, bound to a battered wooden chair with a steel cable. A pretty, petite twenty-something he’d snatched off the street the night before and had kept sedated until a half hour ago. He wondered how long this one would scream before she passed out from the pain.

longhorn180 said...

I lay awake, facing the wall, my eyes bright but my body still. The candle was lit and the flickering brushed an unsteady glow against the rock and stone of my room. The shadows distended as they fell upon the wall’s curve, a continuous circle of gray interrupted briefly by a small window that graced my eyes with the sky. The dawn prepared to break upon the horizon and I was glad for it. No upright shadows fell across me but I knew someone walked about in the room; the sounds disrupted the normal rhythms of the sea below the tower. A skirt rustled; the presence, a woman.

Sully said...

Limestone Slurry and his brother Clay had a pleasant growing up on the banks of Great Bay, catchin’ Lamprey eels and cuttin’ salt marsh hay. It was hard work, hard play, and not much down time. Kept them out of heaps of trouble. Good for young boys with too much adventure on the mind.

Amy Allgeyer Cook said...

My name is Melvin Butters, but all my friends call me Smelvin. That’s because I am a real good smeller. I’m probably the best human smeller in my school. I can smell if people had yogurt or grilled cheese for lunch. I can smell if their socks are clean or day-old. I can even smell if they have the Ocean Mist or the Pine Forest air freshener in their car.

briaspage said...

Seven lockers down, my boyfriend was making out with Cheryl, the way-too-perky head cheerleader. I tried not to stare, but when his hand slid past her waist and over her hip, I slammed my locker shut and stormed off in the opposite direction. Not that anyone noticed. The problem? Not only was I that gorgeous jock’s secret girlfriend, I also had a secret power.

ReadBarbara said...

There are things that you can and should say when a man tells you that he loves you for the very
first time. There are other things that might occur to you in that instant — surprising things that billow into your consciousness unbidden. Be careful. Things in this second category are far, far better left as puzzling little asides for your amusement only. Things in this second category should never, ever be spoken aloud. Not to him, not to your closest friends and not even to yourself, even if you know for certain that you are the only one in the room. Regardless of how honest they might be. Especially because of how honest they might be. Believe me. When a man tells you that he loves you for the very first time, it's just not good to look straight in the eye and say back, "I'm stunned."

Lorel Clayton said...

It was a scene so classic I felt like laughing: A ragged dick lounging at his desk, cigar in his mouth, a glass of whisky at his elbow; across from him a dame with a dilemma. Unfortunately, I was the dame and it wasn’t funny. “I’m in trouble,” I said, absently brushing away the wrinkles in my stolen dress. “My brother died and left me a fortune.” It’s usually my sister, Greta, with problems, always getting in over her head, dating the wrong men. I was smarter than that, or so I thought. Yet, here I was asking for help and hating it.

Matilda McCloud said...

I scaled the sliding glass door like Spider Man. My dog Pepper snarled at me, her canine teeth glistening. I needed help--fast. But when I shouted for help, it felt like a balloon was being blown up in my neck. All that came out was QUONK QUONK. A mosquito distracted me. I sat still, not moving a muscle. With a flick of my long sticky tongue, I had a snack. Delicious. I looked around for another mosquito. I couldn't eat just one. Or was that potato chips? I was confused. Very confused. I had woken up this morning as a normal kid. But now I was a frog. And no, I hadn't kissed any princesses.

gailcville said...

"And a one, and a two, and a one two," the man said, snapping his fingers and tapping his toe. The girl was licking her reed, watching his eyes, tapping her foot. Internalizing his rhythm. In unison, they bit down on the mouthpieces of the saxophones and began to play. His sax was old, the shine worn thin, down to bare metal in places, tiny dints that come from years of being played and hauled from place to place and then played some more. The girl's horn was practically new, bought on credit as a Christmas present three years ago. There was a book of music open on a stand in front of them though neither player looked at it. Instead they watched each others eyes. A half-blink of one set of eyes told the other player everything. Sometimes just a slight change in the pitch of the gaze that anyone else wouldn't even notice. As if they were reading each others minds.

Emma Orser-Kooistra said...

I'll never forget the day they invaded.

Mari said...

(YA - SF)

Her eyelids dropped slowly, a quarter of the way down, half-way, closed shut. She forced them open. “Come on, stay awake,” Trompetina muttered to herself. “I can’t believe we have to rescan the entire Astil system. How did that data get corrupt?” She aimed the receiver to a previously identified planet, heard a familiar hum, and tapped the record button. She repeated the process over and over again. Aim, listen, record. Aim, listen, record. Her eyes closed as her head sank through the receiver’s holo-controls and onto the table. BEEP.

Victoria said...

I rocked back from foot to foot and bit the inside of my cheek. ‘You’ll be fine,’ she’d said the night before. ‘You’ve done this so many times before you know just what to do,’ she was right, I thought, looking around the classroom. I’ve done this too many times before, fourteen times too many. I think it was at that moment that knew I hated her, not because she was right, but because I had the only mother on the whole east coast who couldn’t give a damn. The only parent who treated their child like a ragged, broken chess piece: sweeping me endlessly and carelessly across the continent in some vain attempt to prolong the game of life she knew she’d already lost.

Snazel said...

If you gallivant all over the world without me, who's going to make sure you don't walk off a cliff?  Adelheid stared at her little brother. Johannes, if only you could hear the way you sound. He continued his spiel, oblivious to the complete lack of expression on his sister's face. 

Lucinda said...

Moonlight shined through palace halls where a restless king roamed its long corridors. King Zircon II felt he was a prisoner of his own life. Aching for freedom from his royal heritage, he yearned for youthful days when no heavy crown sat upon his head. Becoming king at age 17 and trying to fill his father’s crown for 13 years made him old before his time. Watching the moon grow enormous just before sinking into the horizon, panic ebbed into his fear of time running out. Putting on his robe, he slipped through a secret passage into the courtyard. Guards were accustomed to his leaving to be alone and paid little attention to his departure. This morning, however, would be different than any other. He did not intend to return.


(only problem I had was choosing which opening paragraph to enter. This blog has been a great read. You have a tough job with all these fantastic entries!)

Death By Children said...

This morning, I woke up dead.

Darzian said...

[i]At last. I’m actually alone out in the world. [i]His heart pounded with excitement. He rose, straightened his coat and strolled casually among the crowd. Nothing special about a young man out to see the carnival. It was time at last to be treated as a commoner.

Nick said...

Afraid I have not read the whole post yet. Will finish shortly. Feel I must say this now,

Well, I've learned an important lesson this evening. If you want Nathan to pick up your book, come up with a contest for his blog. Now to twirl my moustache and plot contests...

Calliopenjo said...

On the ground floor of Alabaster Tower, the Medayan Council waited for their empress in chambers. All of the men looked up with open mouths as the door opened. “Gentlemen.” said Empress Belphoebe, “Tell me something I am not already aware of, and close your mouths. I am not interested in peering at your tonsils.”

Nick said...

I find it a bit weak since this is my first draft (only started it Friday morning after all) but here goes:

Although little more than a year has passed since the onset of this case, I find the once ravenous attention paid to it here in London has subsided to ordinary affairs such as taking jabs at the Prime Minister or griping about the Underground (the latter, I admit, I am sometimes guilty of). The reason it has taken me this long to take record of the story is that while the inhabitants of Stoke asked me to write about the fine details of the case, which the press was surely to hyperbolize to no end, my good friend Ian Goodenough refused to allow me to write anything about it until, after a very long argument, I pressed his permission to write about this and any other cases I should see fit. Thus, I have taken to writing about the “Stoke Incident” as clearly as my memory allows, for the express purpose of putting forth the truth in place of the vagrant stories the news outlets put forth to attract an audience.

Book of Matches Media said...

By all the popular opinions of the world, Baron McNeil would have been considered rather small for a boy his age. Baron, however, didn't know that. His father's work in architectural design (and a “hands-on” ethics to that work) kept Baron and his family constantly on the move, from city to city and job site to job site. Therefore, Baron had seen boys grow up around him of all ages, sizes and shapes; had seen children of all American cultures, colors, and backgrounds. And he had never been in one place long enough to care about the differences. To Baron, his peers were all alike, blurred and lumped together in cliques and classes, till all the blond-haired girls dressed and acted the same and all the resourceful, bookworm boys were bespectacled streaks of paint on the canvases of classroom front rows, their arms raised impatiently into the air. Everyone equally unclear. Everyone consistently misunderstood. Everyone dumbed down to his or her most easily categorized traits.

Peter Cooper said...

Arkansy De-Crisp Lechampion had a recurring nightmare in which he found himself fully-clothed in a public place. He would wake in a cold-sweat and sprint about his cave, knocking into cauldrons and tables and banging into the stuffed and beautifully posed sabre-toothed rapscallion, the very one he had defeated the previous summer using nothing but a fish scaling knife and an onion on a string. The usual method, of course, but Arkansy was nothing if not old-fashioned.

TLH said...

“He’s beautiful, Mags” he said with a lilt in his voice. “We made this.”
My cheeks smiled. “Yeah, we did.” My baby’s blue eyes smiled up at me while Rick’s smiled down at him. The little mass of black hair still shined with the most natural of moistures. I couldn’t put a word to the feeling in my chest, in my heart, when I looked into those eyes for the first time. It was something like joy mixed with peace. My mouth wore an irrepressible smile in those first moments under the glowing light of the moon. The little boy’s voice spoke softly in my mind, like a gentle stroking against my consciousness. I felt like it had been there all along; it was not an invasion, it was a welcome guest in my own thoughts. Hi, Mommy. I’m Adam.

Julie Butcher-Fedynich said...

Grace Templar peeked through the leaves of the rubber tree plant and waited for Mrs. Murphy to leave her guard position at the front desk. Something at Pop’s office wasn’t on the level. She’d refused Grace admittance-- that never happened before. As long as Grace could remember, Mrs. Murphy had smiled and pulled sweets out of red and white striped boxes. Now she blocked the office entrance like the front man in a high-hat speakeasy.

Erasmus said...

This is me before it all began:

Carefree! (read note)
Innocent! (see my picture)
Respected! (read newspaper article)
Loved! (see family photo)

If I look back, I can see who I was. Such a happy soul, and such a dumb, dumb... Not that I'm miserable right now, not at all! It's just that, I found something. Call it ‘Another Kind of Happiness’; ‘Anot-from-the-outside-but-more-from-the-inside Kind of Peace’. Call it ‘Complication’, if you prefer. I don't know. What I do know, is how to be me. That's why I'm doing all of this writing, collecting stuff and showing you what I've discovered. You need to know how I did it, because everyone should know:

Debra Moore said...

His brother’s face was drained of color, his sweaty, black hair framing the pasty flesh. When they were kids Harrison continually stumbled into shit and ended up stinking more than a three-hole outhouse. Twenty years later, he’d learned exactly nothing. Crete shoved a plate of eggs, bacon and toast in front of him, but Harrison pushed the plate away. Shaking a cigarette from his crumpled pack, he applied the lighter with trembling hands. “Barrows is going to kill me.”

Lilliamr said...

I read in the New York Post about this family that had tied up their 14-year-old daughter to the furnace using a bike chain. The parents lived not too far from us in a rundown, stinky apartment building. They swore that their daughter was possessed. "She's the devil," the quote read. She was only two years older than me. I got the idea of using a bike chain from that article and it worked really well. It gave enough slack for Mom to move around the bedroom but not enough for her to get out.

GloriaAttarRNBSN said...

Antonella struggled with her boot laces. She knew if she didn’t hurry that her father would be halfway to the cellars before she even got to her feet. She needed to catch up with him before he passed through the iron gate, or she’d risk being locked out and have only her father’s lackluster technical description of what had happened to the wine. No matter how incredible the reality was, her father had a habit of melting everything down to such a practical level that she was sure the only time he had any fun was when she arrived home from the States. When the housekeeper, Maria, asked for a recap of Antonella and her father’s summer travels, both would stand in the kitchen and take turns recounting their adventures. At the end of their recitation, Maria was never convinced they’d been on the same vacation, as Antonella’s penchant for drama always eclipsed Vittorio’s restraint.

Melissa Petreshock said...

YA from Awakening of a Guardian my completed novel. I included the second paragraph too just since the first one is so short. I hope that's okay.


In all of us exists unrealized talents and latent abilities, an infinite number of hidden facets in the intricate sculpture of our unique self. For most of us, our lives will reveal only a fractional glimpse of this sculpture.

Happening upon this theory was simple enough, given the generally accepted scientific notion that the average human actively uses a mere ten percent of their brain’s power. Reflecting on what the average human is capable of learning and achieving, it was only a small leap to surmise the rest. If only you could shatter the glass wall around that ten percent and awaken the rest of your mind, unfathomable things could take place. Magic could live in a pure, unadulterated state. True elemental magic, not the witchcraft and sorcery of legend and myth, but enlightenment, could exist in our world.

Y.A. Newbie said...

This place is nauseating. Not in the sense of it causing my stomach any distress, of course, though between the chain smoker hacking up tar to my left and the child gleefully bursting a shiny red pustule on my right, such a reaction would be natural in a sheep less black than myself. But now that I think about it, and about the way St. Whatever’s Memorial Hospital has been dolled up to like someplace where one might buy a new coffee table, nothing would delight me more than to vomit all over the expensive navy carpet.

Hollister said...

Toby Beckett hurried after the terrier down the steep steps to the gate. When they reached the narrow Porter Street sidewalk, the dog hesitated as though deciding which way to go. Late-nineteenth century homes with elegant modern landscaping lined the street. A cab passed over the sweltering hill toward the cathedral. Below, where the street wound out of sight, the rumble of traffic came from Connecticut Avenue, a broad boulevard that marked the boundary of the Cleveland Park neighborhood and cut across Washington, D.C. The dog chose that direction.

Ann said...

It was cold. Colder than I liked, not as cold as I was used to. I lit a cigarette and gazed at the house across the street. Little clapboard house in the middle of Queens, not so different from the one I'd grown up in. Except that this one was surrounded by tall buildings and most likely sliced up into half a dozen illegal apartments. Probably go up in flames one night.

Frankie Diane Mallis said...

The absolute number one rule of a successful first date is to avoid TMI at all costs. Too much information can ruin the mood, turn the other person off and lead to nights spent alone. Some daters aren’t quite sure what constitutes TMI. Personally, I count prison time, mental illness and stds in that area. However, the date I was currently on had just unknowingly admitted far worse. We’d slept together before. Something he had no memory of. And it wasn’t because he was a player, or a drunk or a jack ass, well, maybe he was…I mean it was our first date-what did I know? No, the reason he couldn’t remember having sex with me was because we did it in another life.

Peri1020 said...

Penn Healey leaned against the police car, his arms folded over his chest, his long denim-clad legs stretched out before him and crossed at the ankles. His brown leather coat was fastened against the strong March wind and he tucked his gloved hands into his armpits to keep them warm. His Latin blood hated the cold, but since he was stuck living in Martinsburg, West Virginia, he had to adapt. Which meant he should be wearing a hat, but he left it in his car and he wasn't about to abandon his post to get it. Not when the forensic team was about to bring the body out of the ground.

Jeanne M. Bannon said...

The woman stepped out of her SUV into the cool night air. She stiffened - an icy chill snaked its way up her spine. Stepping backwards, she felt the warmth of the engine as she reached for the car door when the sensation struck again. A silent plea ran through her head. Oh God, no. Please, no. Drawing a deep breath, Dane Westwood forced herself forward through the sliding doors of St. Boniface Hospital. Tonight, duty trumped instinct.

julieT said...

I heard Sealy cryin' before I seen her. But I couldn't get to her, 'cause I was standin' on the first step, loadin' onto the school bus, stuck behind my second cousin, Danisha and her big butt.

The Writing Muse said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jennifer W. said...

A sob catches in my throat and wakes me from a dream I don’t remember. I open my eyes to pitch black and the horror of the dream merges into the horror of reality. Even sleep won’t provide an escape for me tonight. I slide out of bed and feel my way in the dark. Kneel down and dig through the shoes, books, and fallen clothes piled in the bottom of my closet until my fingers find smooth plastic. My heart pounds. I reach inside and grasp soft cotton, slide it out and lay it across my lap. Unfold and stretch the fabric so it covers my bare legs. I trace my fingertips from one corner to the other. Even in the dark I know every worn spot and every rip--badges of a struggle. I pause on the spot just bigger than my hand, once wet and saturated, now dried stiff and crusty. I reach down and gather the cloth in my arms, pull it to my chest, and breathe in. I can still pick out his smell--sweat and cologne, mingled with dirt, grass, and the rusty, salty, smell of blood.

Pamela G said...

Rachel told a lie. A pretty big one as a matter of fact. She had always thought of herself as an honest person until that day in June, and now she was a big fat liar. She hadn’t really meant to do it; the words had come out of her mouth before she could stop them. As she opened her front door, she cringed a little as she thought back on the chance meeting and its aftermath that prompted her to tell a lie she hoped she wouldn’t live to regret. On the other hand, maybe it wouldn’t turn out to be a lie after all.

shelley said...

YA

I’m never getting out of here. That fat ol’ guard might as well take the key, put it between two thick slices of white bread, smear mayo on, and have it for his lunch, for all the good it’s gonna do me.
“Hey, Panteria,” the guard calls from his office. I can just hear him over his, “bleeding heart county western music,” radio station.
“Yeah,” my head vibrates with pain, and I wonder if I have an ear infection.

Lori Benton said...

I remember the borders of our land, though I have been gone from them nearly half the moons of my life. They are these: the hilltop stone to the north; Black Kettle Creek to the east; to the west, the ridgeline that follows the creek; and south, the bottomland acres where the corn and wheat are sown, hard by the track that leads to Shiloh.

Samantha K. said...

Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. Any act of cruel depravity granted more pleasure than this. Bamboo wedged under the fingernails. A fire-soaked poker pressed against the inside of the thigh. A summer swim in a cauldron of flesh-devouring acid. All of them child’s play compared to the driving stakes of agony impaling her temples once again.

Voicu Mihnea Simandna said...

The crackdown on the illegal tour operators and the so called meter-taxi drivers who never turned on the meter had no long-term effect. Although the Prime Minister paraded in front of the press at the airport and although hundreds of scammers were fined an insignificant one thousand baht, they were already back, harassing the tourists who had just landed from far away lands to enjoy the holiday of a life-time. And even though, once back home, they shared with all their friends the sad scam stories, no one seemed to learn their lesson. Actually, it was the government who was supposed to have learned the lesson by now. With all the political unrest, the street demonstrations, and the economic crisis, all Thailand needed was another documentary on how unsafe the so-called Land of Smiles actually was. To make it even worse, this issue was doubled by official warnings by Western nations that Thailand was no longer a tourist’s paradise, but rather a place where you were most likely to get ripped off, beaten up, and cheated by every taxi driver, go-go girl, and street hawker. ("The Buddha Head," work in progress)

Karen said...

Being afraid all the time sucks. And in the past few months I've had plenty to be afraid of. The secrets from my past, my uncertain future, my family - they all get scarier by the day. Fear and I have become closely acquainted. Close enough that I've learned to recognize the painful hollow feeling it puts in the pit of my stomach, and the bitter taste that makes it hard to swallow without gagging.

The Writing Muse said...

Phil Johnstone had two too many beers for lunch. The problem was he didn’t even realize it as he hoisted himself into the cab of his semi-truck. The only thing he knew was that his belly ached pleasantly because it held one of the biggest and greasiest burger and fries that the truck stop diner had ever served. He managed to wash that down with two draft beers. He was a big man who knew his limit and who was always able to handle his liquor. Besides, having a drink or two with lunch was his routine, something that made the tedious drive on the highway a little more tolerable. After all, he had been driving a truck for twenty years. It was second nature to him. Hell, other truck drivers looked up to him for doing such a bang up job. Never once had he called in sick and he had never had an accident. Phil Johnstone was a trucker-god.

Rosalind Stone said...

I screw my eyes shut and drop beside her, my knees sinking into something soft. Mushy.Oh god. _Why_ am I doing this? "Just. Don't. Touch. Anything."

Jamie said...

Deathly cold wind pressed against Jacqueline as she cut across the center of the frozen pond. She gained speed, turned both skates outward and glided sideways. Leaning back, Hedgewood trees blurred through her vision, bare and black, like gargoyles guarding the pond. Their gnarled limbs jut upward where they pierced the bloated gray clouds. With her arms spread wide, the wind caught her long blonde curls, and looped them around her neck.

Damien Grintalis said...

White. It’s all I can see. The pain in my chest is crushing. I try to breathe around it, but the air in my lungs is on vacation. A strange taste bounces on my tongue, like rubber mixed with peanut butter. Oddly enough, I’m calm. Resigned. I don’t know why. I don’t want to die, but I’m pretty sure I don’t have a choice. Not anymore.

CeCe H. said...

The man sitting across from me on the subway seemed to be smiling. He was all at once smiling and flying through the air. No, it wasn’t a smile at all. He was flying, splitting open, his face appearing to smile momentarily before he exploded.

Frank said...

My heavy breathing sounded like a light snore while I was lying in my bed on a hot summer night. The wail of a fire engine was followed by a million screeches of police sirens that shot past my window. The sounds of purring vehicles continued once those sirens began to fade into the darkness again. The timed rush of groups of cars when the traffic lights turned green was beginning to lull me to sleep. My constant tightening throat and the presence of unreachable snot in the back of it kept me awake. The sweat-laden sheets clung and scratched at my naked torso, but I was too tired and too lazy to do anything about them. Occasionally my eyes would slide open to look up, playing a game of connect the dots with the popcorn ceiling. My eyes glazed after a pair of particularly bright headlights made their way past my window, their light sliced into laser thin strips because of my metal blinds.

Dawn Maria said...

As she rolled away from Eric, Pippa decided that she couldn’t fuck poets anymore. When pressed for human connection, they all hid behind silly verse. On this crisp morning, she finally accepted the truth—language was far more arousing to a poet than sex; they all preferred a naked page to a naked woman. Gathering her clothes from the floor, Pippa dressed in silence. No matter, her plans didn’t include poetry.

houndrat said...

This is from my YA novel, The Demon Guard:

All I had to do was show Trent I was interested, get him alone, and then, you know--do it.
Even in my head, the plan sounded cold-blooded.

Alex said...

When I wake the world is still gone. Only fragments remain. Pieces of places and people that used to be whole. On the other side of the window, the landscape is a bold green. The kind you see on a flat screen television in a watering hole disguised as a restaurant. Too green. I half expect a leprechaun to skip by, flipping me off while he totes his pot o' gold. The sky is a caustic gray that brings perpetual drizzle. There are stories told among pockets of survivors that the rains have come to the Sahara. That green now sprinkles the endless brown. And that the British Isles are fast drying under a relentless sun. Nature is rebuilding with her own set of plans. Man has no say.It's a month until my thirty-first birthday. I am three months older than I was when the disease struck. Six months older than when war pummeled the globe. Somewhere in between, geology went crazy and drove the weather to schizophrenia. No surprise when you look at why we were fighting. A year has passed since I first saw the jar.

Weronika Janczuk said...

Mama comes home when it’s dark outside, the sun fallen beyond the forest outside our window. She sets her basket on the floor under the hanging jackets in the hallway and stumbles into the kitchen, exhausted after working all day as a laundress, now barely able to stand on her feet. “Tata hasn’t been home yet,” I tell her. Most likely, he has headed straight for the bars.

wendy said...

On August 15, 2008, I stared at my half-brother while he lay in an economy-style casket, the kind you might find on discountcoffins.com. I had been writing to Jack for six months, but I hadn’t seen him in four years. I also had no clue how he died or how he ended up in an adult prison before he turned eighteen. Nerissa, my best friend had ideas, but too much CSI and dating losers left her jaded. Though I was curious, it wouldn’t have mattered anyway; my altruistic nature was destined to leave me mentally bankrupt.

GuyStewart/DISCOVERCHURCH said...

Escaping her past should have been easier than getting off the alien homeworld. But once Humans launched their genocidal invasion against the WheetAh, Metrinka Navratalova wouldn’t be able to do either one.

Marcia J Sargent said...

The dolphin should have been warning enough. I‘d often seen Pacific Bottlenose dolphins, Tursiops gillii, swimming around past the surf line. However, this one spoke to me.

susannah said...

This is the moment they warn you about. It starts as harmless fun, talking to a guy online who’s a little different, a little older, and not at all connected to you. But the moment it goes from anonymous keystrokes to real-life is when the wheels come off. Because from here, it’s only a matter of time until you learn that the witty conversationalist is just masquerading as a college junior—he’s really a forty-five-year-old child molester with a camera already planted in your bedroom. Or better yet, he’s really a seventh-grader at your school and has been blogging all your conversations to the delight of his snot-nosed friends. Or maybe the name, age, and location are valid, but rather than being a guy you can laugh with and make out with, he’s actually a directionless loser and looks mysteriously different than the photos he sent you—but he doesn’t think it should matter, because you were really attracted to his personality, right?

Sara Spock said...

A thick elbow to the ribs woke Sergeant James Douglas well before his alarm. He grabbed the chubby joint and pushed it away from him, curling his six foot frame into a ball in the left hand corner of the bed. Without blankets, his long-john pajamas did nothing to protect him from the chilled air of the concrete house. He heard a shuffle and clenched his muscles in preparation for another elbow. Instead, his wife’s voice droned from the end of the hall. She advanced to his side of the bed and a finger prodded the side of his face. “Wake up, Jim. Connor’s on the phone,” Douglas heard. He simply groaned and curled tighter into himself, one hand clutching his pillow, the other holding his stomach for the impending pain the ulcer would bring.

Marcia J Sargent said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vanessa said...

If she gripped the steering wheel any harder her fingerprints would be embossed in the leather. Aria Keener forced her hands to relax, sending blood to her white knuckles. Slumped in her passenger seat, a teenage boy trembled and shifted the seatbelt away from his neck.

Ricki said...

LEXICON OF LOVE:

My shriek echoed through the crowded cafeteria at the sight of two words: Nuns’ Chorus.

Synonym said...

There’s a difference between living and living well. Just one sentence, half-remembered from a song, shouldn’t be able to drive someone nuts, but it was. Me. Maybe the bald truth of the sentence hooked the words into my brain. If I lifted my eyes from the path in front of my feet, the future didn’t look promising. It resembled a heaping portion of self-destruction served with a side of apathy. This was very slim sustenance to survive on.

kerryswindow said...

The pub didn’t go still or silent, snooker balls continued to roll across the table but Iris felt their eyes crawling over her. She saw clusters of shampoo and set heads bobbing together,
‘All fur coat and no drawers, you mark mah words.’

Timothy John Morris said...

The wind blew through Tam's hair as he watched the invasion unfold. It was horrible. Looking to his right he suddenly spoke in a wavering voice, "Tera...come on, there is nothing we can do...please..." His older sister would not budge. It was THEIR home under attack at the bottom of the cliff. THEIR family dying. THEIR friends fighting for their lives. and yet, only these two, kids really, would survive. Knowing that in full knowledge though didnt help at all. For what is life for with out family and friends to spend it with? At least they had each other....for now. "Tera, please! Some of those Buggers can fly! We have to go NOW!" though the younger of the two, Tam had more common sense then his sister. A side effect of training under the local Drainer. Finally, when the only thing left of their Enclave was the ashes in the wind, the same wind that told Tam of the Enclave's doom, Tera relented and the two started on their journey. A quest of sorts. to find Humanity's last hope. The one thing that destroyed earth eons ago, and the only thing strong enough to destroy the Hive now. a nuke. The nuke. The Last Nuke. Maester Somsphet's Nuke.

purpledinotype said...

It was noon, and I was just waking up.
I had been up until 3:30am rehearsing with one of my sketch comedy groups. Well, to be perfectly honest, we rehearsed until 11pm or so and then a few of us went to a bar to further discuss our character developments, what whiny bitches we have in the group, and the reunification of Germany in 1989.
My only party of the day was a Honey Bear Type for a little boy named Pierce. He was turning three. Lucky him. Not so much luck to his parents. Goodbye “terrible twos,” hello, “watch me fight even more with you to prove my independence as I feel a need to constantly wine to you, ‘Let me do it!’” threes.
My routine on days that I have to perform at birthday parties is just that, routine.

Mim said...

Selena ran up towards the sun as it began to crest over the hill. Her long blonde hair reflected the light as it bounced in a ponytail with every step. Every fifty feet she dropped an indiscriminate package off the side of the road. Glancing up at the sun, she pushed herself a little bit faster. Her breath came heavy and ragged with every stride.

Mark Hollock said...

I may never love with the hopeful expectations of those who knew love as children. But I have provided for my own children and perhaps have set a foundation on which they can love with the certainty I lack. My name is Michael Cormick and I've raised two children, one by Jas and one with Cherka. And I shouldn't leave out Ana, even though by the time I met her she was already nine years old. So yes, I've raised Ana too.

Darin said...

Steven Bauer glanced at his watch and pondered the ridiculous concept of being fashionably late. His foot tapped in time with a song from the eighties playing over the house speakers and he smiled despite himself as Daryl Hall crooned, “I’m waiting for, waiting for you girl.” Waiting is just part of the game, I guess, but thirty-five minutes? This Helene chick had better be worth it.

Renee said...

I was engrossed in the latest Elmore Leonard novel when the bell above my door signaled an arrival. My only visitors were the mailman and an occasional FedEx delivery so I didn’t look up, I just gestured in the direction of a desk overflowing with unopened, unanswered mail. It took a moment, but when the bell didn’t ring to signify a departure I looked up.

Mike Harris-Stone said...

Laura turned the Volvo into the lane leading to Pendragon Farm and tried not think – thinking hurt too much. Thoughts of Nigel hurt: his crooked smile, his lying blue eyes and every freckle on his sun burned face, everything she wanted to forget, but couldn’t. Like the habit of being a family, something you couldn’t change in a month. Every morning when she woke up she still expected to find him on his side of the bed. Every damned morning. She hadn’t even found the courage to twist his ring from her finger. That hurt too – her basic spinelessness. If only she hadn’t been afraid to go out on his boat with him, it wouldn’t have happened, Nigel and Belinda. She could have stopped it, the fear, the hated shaking paralysis the sight of the sea induced in her, but she hadn’t. She could have protected Jennifer, her daughter, could have protected herself. She didn’t want to believe it -- in fact she didn’t believe it -- but the idea kept coming back at her, like sunlight flashing through breaks in the hedgerow as she drove. She gripped the wheel and tried to be a sponge, to soak up the April sunshine, to empty herself and let the wind rushing in her open window sweep her clean. Laura became so absorbed, she nearly ran down old Tegen Pentecost, the farmer’s wife.

Devon Ashley said...

A needle pierced her neck. She ripped the dart out but knew it was too late. The potion was already rushing through her bloodstream – she had less than a minute left.

Josh J. said...

My timing was wrong, and there wasn’t a thing I could do about it. I was too late. Friday night I had spoken to a guy who somehow seemed like a close friend, the instant we met. I’d had dreams like that, but I never thought it could really happen. One night later, I was a single man; the boyfriend from hell was history, and... well, what did I expect? That the guy would show up again for another rejection? I’d had my chance and lost it.

Blodwyn said...

Samantha Liffey always performed best when she was nervous. It was why, at age 12, she was the junior statewide champion in archery. It was why she was moments away from hitting the gold disc in the center of the target, solidifying her entry into the prestigious Moldovia tournament for field sports. It was also partly why she would escape death in the most dangerous place in the whole universe in just two short months.

Louise Uccio said...

I’d like to believe that I started out in life, normal enough.

Normal enough? What’s that mean? Am I saying I later found out I was some kind of alien? Ummmm yes, Ab-so-fuckin-lute-ly, alien, misfit.. and then some! Aahhhhhhhh I betcha your thinkin’ Alien? Ohh great! Another one of those extra terrestrial E. T. Phone home books. Where nothin’s real and aliens take over the world? P-e-r-h-a-p-s.. Ollie, perhaps. I guess it’s all about how you wanna perceive it. J-u-s-t like life on Planet Dysfunction (P.D.).. It’s all about p-e-r-c-e-p-t-i-o-n and how much time ya’ spend in happy fuckin’ denial and or happy fuckin’-fantasyland! For those of you who don’t know what happy fuckin’ denial or happy fuckin’ -fantasyland is, those are some of the “get away from reality” sources of nourishment you can only find down on P. D. Swallow happy fuckin’ denial, along with happy fuckin’- fantasyland, and v-o-o-o-i-i-l-a-a-a-a! Just like that.. Reality is g-o-o-o-n-e! Life is what ya want it to be.. how fuckin’ sweet is that? (Shakin’ my head)

HH said...

James waited at the corner to cross the street while the aroma of bread and the cry of “Fresh and hot, only two shillings!” tortured him. He imagined biting into the sweet crust. Saliva pooled in his mouth. His conscience waged war with his hollow stomach. Hunger won. He took one quick step back and swiped a loaf out of the street vendor’s basket then rushed into traffic. While dodging carriages, he heard, “Stop! Thief! Stop that boy!” On the other side of the road, he paused to watch the vendor push the basket into his apprentice’s hands as he stepped toward the edge of the cobblestones. Swallowing a dry lump of fear, James began to run.

Jackie said...

How could I have known when I left the warm secure home of my family, that it would be the last time I saw them? Why didn't I get a sense of the realization that I would spend the next year running from the feds? And that only one person, the last one I would ever pick, would be the only one I could trust. How could I not have known any of this as the first snowflakes started to fall in the early evening?

kat yeh said...

Sheldon despaired at the thought of salad bars. Despaired and yet, each day, was inexorably drawn to their side. The heady scent of the vegetation. The flirtatious ruffles of the tender leafed lettuces. The cool leggy carrot sticks -- sweet, available and without judgment or disdain. And the turgid ripeness of the olives. He tried varying his arrival time. He frequently faked a left to the restrooms and then suddenly lunged right. He prayed and made promises to unfaithful deities, but each day it was the same: the moment he stepped up to the salad bar, the earth-shattering clatter of twenty steaming plates fresh from the dishwasher would land before him.

Gabby said...

Accusation. Denial. Corruption. Guilt. The ugly sentiments trapped in the cold, grey walls crashed upon Beth Parker. Even if they painted the walls a cheery yellow, the Bowen County Police Department would remain a dreary and depressing place. From the slump of his small shoulders, the same oppressing weight drew down on the little boy across from her. He was six years old, and although her heart ached to reach out to him, she could not allow it.

Hollister said...

Hey, Nathan, you're nuts for doing this, ha ha!

Have a good week!

Regan Leigh said...

“Rise and shine, pretty boy!” I shout at him. He doesn’t respond. Of course not. Almost two months have passed and I’m still dead. With a sigh, Evan rolls over and slaps in the wrong direction for the alarm. I suppress a smile, as if he could see my expression. He stumbles out of bed, yawning and stretching. His boxers make a tent and I laugh, feeling awkward as usual. Looking away, the ceiling stares back at me as I take an unneeded breath.

Catherine A. Winn said...

Driving rain pelted the windows. “It’s really coming down, now,” Miss Davidson said, turning off the computer presentation.

Lori, or Prissy-Pants, as Annie Kilner secretly called her, slid out of her desk and sidled up to the teacher. Annie watched as Lori tucked a few golden strands behind her ear. “If this gets any worse we’ll have to stay here in the Administration Building. Would you let us out early, Miss Davidson, so we won’t get stuck here?” She gave the teacher a little pouty face with her glossed red lips. Annie looked three rows over and made gagging gestures to her best friend and roommate, Mindy Welch.

Catherine A. Winn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Devon Ashley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kaye George said...

"That's it, Uncle Huey!" shouted Imogene Duckworthy, whipping off her apron and flinging it onto the slick, stainless steel counter. "I quit!" Her order pad, pencil, even straws skittered out of their pouches and across the floor. She took a step back, her shoes sticking to the trod-upon-after-lunch debris.

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

All hail the Juggernaut, Class 5! (That means you, Nathan.)

Kristin Laughtin said...

They would go down in song, they would become legends of old, but no one ever told them how to live after the war. There were unspoken promises of peace and quiet, of being welcomed as heroes after the conflict was resolved, of a lifetime of adoration--but no one to fulfill such vows. Happily ever after had never come for Ainar Grey, and that was how she found herself working in the bread-shop a year after saving the world.

Knick said...

The island had little use for a locksmith. Livestock was the chief possession of value, and criminals--at least of the thieving or violent sort--all but unknown. But the night a schooner wrecked, and a girl in a chastity belt turned up among the rescued, someone thought to summon Will.

Jessica L. said...

My instinct was to run away. To make up some excuse and fly out of there. Instead, I tapped my fingers on the conference room table, took a few deep breaths, and waited for her to fire questions at me.

ccarpinello said...

It wasn’t the late summer sun burning his head. It wasn’t the dry mouth he had from all the dust kicked up in the yard. It wasn’t even the aching muscles in his arms and back from wielding the heavy iron sword during the long afternoon practice. No, what made him sigh with hopelessness was that he knew. His eleventh birthday was just five days away, but it didn’t matter. That was plain this morning.

Rhonda Roberts said...

If cusswords had color, the halls at Stone Mountain High School would be mustard brown with flashes of slime green and occasional lightning bolts blood-red and black. The air is thick with them today, all shades of cuss-colors stacked up on top of each other. Tonight is the first football game of the season, and the Warriors and their fans are trying to work themselves up. I don't know why they bother. They've won only six games in the last five years.

S. Melville said...

The platform snapped open beneath the man's brown shoes and his neck cracked against the noose, his feet swinging and clapping together. The crowd around August cheered -- or perhaps they only gave murmurs of approval; the world awaiting death is oft more quiet than that of life.

Ink Johnson said...

"Hey, Zack, when you're finished mopping the floor, take out the trash, but make sure there's no one in the Dumpster first. We don't want a repeat of what happened last week."
"Will do, boss," I said, clinging to the mop for dear life as I fought a wave of nausea. The nausea won.
George handed me a dishrag and a tumbler of vodka after my breakfast was fully regurgitated into the mopping bucket. "What's that for?" I accepted the dishrag and wiped my mouth, but eyed the liquor with distrust. It would be just like George to offer me a drink and then take it out of my paycheck.
"The original mouthwash," he said.
"If you say so," I said. I swished and spat it out. A day in the life, my friends. Don't let anyone tell you being a wizard is fun. There's a lot more throwing up involved than the Grimm Brothers have led you and your fellow humans to believe.

Jen said...

Braxton, Georgia
1932

Mundy Calhoun sipped from his bottle of Coca-Cola and leaned against the wall of Quinn’s Drug, watching the stranger closely. A colored fella stuck out a bit in this part of town as it was, never minding the camera and city slicker clothes. The stranger set his satchel down under the awning of the five and dime, pushed his Panama hat back from his broad forehead and rolled up his sleeves; his muscled brown forearms were shining with sweat. Mundy took another drink of his soda and waited as the stranger worked to set up his camera, spreading the legs of the stand and caressing them like a lady’s thighs.

Sally V Johnson said...

How many sexual partners have you had in the past year? None. Are you sexually active? No, well, I used to be way back when. Does that count? Have you ever had sex? Haven’t we covered that with the sexual partners and number of pregnancies? Couldn’t they ask these questions in a more obvious, chronological order, one that involved “if no, skip to question number X” and save me from constantly restating my lack of a sex life? This is insulting. Is anyone even going to read my answers? I start to write “50” for my “number of sexual partners”, but resist since my smart ass might force this sad lie ff the page and into a real conversation.

Eleni Konstantine said...

AN ARROW HURTLED from the surrounding trees, embedding into the horse’s chest. A high pitched shrill echoed in the air as it toppled, flinging a surprised Irini out of the cart.

Jessie Oliveros said...

My father died with a lie on his lips. He told me he loved me from the day I was born. Only I found out one funeral, one year, and one blood drive later that he didn’t know me when I was born.

Dana Fredsti said...

I slapped the head of my Giant Panda alarm clock, sending a metal spike into its adorable panda skull. Normally I'd feel guilty about hurting an endangered animal, even by plastic proxy, but anything to stop the evil ringing.

Jo Taylor said...

It's a strange business. I provide care to the sick, the injured, the dying and the insolent unharmed. The phone rings or the radio calls, and suddenly we dash off to a stubbed toe, or six people dead on the freeway. It's kind of hard to prepare for that; hard to come back to normal from life lived at ninety percent boredom and ten percent sheer terror. My next career will be something that looks pretty and smells good. For now, I’m a trauma queen. It’s like being a drama queen, only messier.

Sally Tomato said...

The argument ended abruptly when she realized she had a small piece of chicken stuck in her hair. She couldn’t think of anything to say to him after that.

Kim Preston said...

Zane Banik glanced around the crowded dance club, searching for the one. He felt most powerful here, as if the energy ran through him, and he craved the feeling worse than a drug addict deprived of their favorite fix. Actually, he hated it there. The music pounded uncomfortably through his body, the smoke-filled air choked him, and both the women and the alcohol flowed too freely for his tastes, but he needed to keep trying. “She must find me.” His fingertips traced the rim of his glass in a deliberate slow motion as he leaned back against the bar.

Nicholas Johnson said...

Tonight was the night that Jordan would die. She had come for him before and nearly succeeded, but tonight was somehow different – she would kill him; he could feel it. Jolie had told him that the woman would come at 9 o’clock tonight. That had been a few days ago, on Friday. Now here he was, on Monday, sitting and waiting for the inevitable. Jordan raised his head to look at the clock on the desk in the corner. Really, the desk was just a piece of glass, overtop a piece of wood, placed between a bookshelf and a cabinet made up of three drawers. He had to search a bit; the desk was such a mess. He shared this room with his best friend Caleb. They took turns with the bed; alternating nights in the bed and on the couch in the main room. But still, all of their things were in this room and they had brought a lot. Finally, he glimpsed the black box. The numbers all flashed zero. But the sun had set a while ago, what seemed like ages ago, so he knew his time was almost up.

mrchrstn said...

When I was a little girl, I had a dream that I have always taken to be true, even when I didn’t believe it to be real. This was when we still lived in the smaller house south of London, before I knew how unusual a name ‘Justice’ was for a young girl. This was also long before anyone knew anything about the London Occupation, or my father’s involvement in it.

LindaBudz said...

Oh, my. 750+ and counting, and it's only Monday. God bless you, Nathan. Here's mine, for a YA:

I normally didn’t go to my father’s funerals unless I was scheduled to sing, but it wasn’t every day Dad buried a rock star. No way would I miss this service. And though it would have been cool to sing Mick Cage's final tribute, I was glad not to have to worry about it. No sweaty palms, no stomachache, no rash on my neck. I could sit back and watch.

Erika Robuck said...

The first time Mariella saw Ernest Hemingway at his house, he was sitting on a wicker stool on his lawn while his second wife, Pauline, cut his hair. He was big and the chair was small, and he regarded Mariella with the kind of mocking smile that usually runs between old friends. It occurred to Mariella that Pauline was trying to tame that great animal of a man, and the absurdity of it made Mariella smile back at him.

Courtney Johnson said...

My car horn sounded like a cross between a bleating sheep and a dying cat, but I pressed against the whole steering wheel with all my strength. When the red-faced truck driver in front of me finally made eye contact in his mirror, I stuck my middle finger out the window and waved.

ILSinTexas said...

Fourteen-year-old Libby Marks stopped in front of the Fortune Airways' ticket counter at the Dallas/Fort Worth airport and studied her itinerary. Her flight to San Francisco departed in 45 minutes. As she stood in line to convert her electronic boarding pass into a paper one, a cold chill crept up her spine and her heart began to pound. Someone was watching her. Libby spun around. A man seated by the door stared at her like she was a goldfish in a very small bowl. Twenty-something. Long, dirty blond hair. Acne-scarred face. I'm a zombie on a mission from hell, and you're my next victim, his look seemed to say.

gray said...

A sedan crept through a hairpin turn onto Rose Hill Road. It jerked to a stop twenty feet from a covered bridge sitting astride the Cocalico Creek, flowing fast and high for October. Yellow leaves, stripped from the surrounding ash and oak trees during the rainstorm last evening, littered the creek bed. The sun had returned in force today, its prisms skittering off the wet leaves, bleaching the bridge’s ruddy red exterior the color of sour cherries. Clear skies, wispy clouds—Indian summer made perfect in Berkshire County. A setting to treasure any other day, except this one, because they had come to scatter the ashes of their closest childhood friend.

Donna Hole said...

Tommy Thurman sat bolt upright in bed, a scream of terror locked behind his tightly clenched jaws. The dark closed around him like a hug from smelly old Grandma Edna. At ten, he was too old for a night light, but that didn’t stop Tommy from wanting the comfort of long lost Scooby Doo. The bedroom door was closed, or he’d at least have the light from the hallway.

Mechelle Fogelsong said...

When your mom is beyond the normal shades of loopy, it’s easy for an underage kid to get a tattoo. Fitzpatrick Metzler had managed to get four tattoos by age seventeen. Whenever he met new people, their eyes were immediately drawn to the fish scale sleeves that artistically and indelibly imprinted the back of each of his hands like a pair of green fishnet stockings. Kayla Gehring was no exception.

Stuart said...

Long ago my childhood became a graveyard for the shipwrecks of memory. Broken masts lay compressed along its shoreline. Like inverted crosses rising from the water, the emotional events of my youth scuttled upon shallow rocks and slipped gently into its currents. Throughout the years I found forgetting an acceptable form of therapy; my demonstration of its ability masterful.

Stacey G. said...

Ruby would've consumed twenty macchiatos and flirted with the handsome bellhop who carried in her bags, but having ingested nothing after embarking on a Learjet thirty years past its prime and piloted by a man named Bucky, Natalie Bernstein craved nothing but a mug of soothing tea and a bed that didn't lurch. She dinged the Barbarosa Resort's gold plated bell, but the clerk was either asleep or abducted by aliens. "Hello," she called as she looked around.

coffeelvnmom said...

Who knew a simple scrapbooking seminar would make my life so complicated. I didn’t, obviously, or I never would have gone to the stupid thing. If I’d just stayed home that night, things may have possibly been different. I could be telling you a completely different story. But then again, maybe I wouldn’t be. Maybe everything still would have happened, and only the final outcome of this story would have been different. If I am being honest, I don’t think I’d change the final outcome. I mean sure, if there had been a way to keep one specific event from happening, the event that changed everything forever, mind you, I would have done anything to stop it. Without the slightest hesitation. But some things in life are just beyond our control.

Amy Cochran said...

Cross-armed, River leaned against the earthen wall of the impressive meeting hall. Adorning the walls and windows, frost kissed moonflower and morning glory vines twinkled in the soft rays of the dawn. Ice encrusted white and gold crocuses lining the cool shale path lead to the large battle scarred hickory table with twelve ornately carved chairs in the center of the room. The effect, though beautiful, was chilling but it suited River's resolve; magnificently cold.

TGirlsRock said...

Lily Stone glanced around her room and looked at the clock, “There’s still time.” She grabbed the Ouija board and placed it on her plump lap. “Grandma, are you still there?” The sixteen year old held her breath, waiting for the board to do something, anything.

LauraW said...

This is how I erase myself: one stroke at a time. The lake’s current is deceptive. Go limp, and it’ll take you far from shore. But I am strong. The muscles under my skin push me where I want to go. Legs kicking, torso shifting, arms pressing down & around. I am moving in fish time. My thoughts seep into the water like blood. For this moment the current takes away who I am, what I’ve done.

Eden Glenn said...

Bright light bathed Wren Aldridge’s face as thoughts of sun, morning. . .late? crept into her sleep-fogged brain. She rolled away from the light, snuggling back into the protective coziness of her bed. Late, penetrated with a pounding urgency. She sat up with a gasp and jumped from the bed struggling from unconscious oblivion to craaapppp overslept, Agggghh. A weird, creepy, bad dream had awoken her at 4:44 a.m. She remembered reaching for the clock to look at the time. Grabbing the clock must have. . . shut-off-the-alarm. Memory of the wispy threads of the half forgotten nightmare evaporated with the abrupt start on the day. Damn, gotta go, late, late, late.

J Decker said...

The once pristine living room of the Endimon household now stood as the monument of a nightmare. Thirteen-year-old Jakob Endimon staggered out the front door. He collapsed on the lawn and threw up three times before his strength failed him. There was so much blood.

Richard Lewis said...

(This is a revision of something I entered at #400 -- nothing like having a public viewing to make one revise a raw daft.)

But holy cow. Nearly 800 already? I hope Nathan's bunker is holding out. Being an alliterative sort, I predict three thousand by Thursday. There are a whole lot of entries I would like to keep reading.

I'm published and maybe I shouldn't but I'm throwing my hat in the ring for the irresistible free book prize.

******

My bones heavy with jetlag and the last dregs of malaria, I made my way through Chicago's Union Station and out to the train tracks. The handle of my battered suitcase was sweaty in my grip. It was mid-morning in late August, and the city's broad shoulders slumped in the steam-kettle humidity. I'd grown up in the tropics, but that was nothing compared to this heat. Squinting against hazy light coming through grimy windows, I found the 10:45 to Jericho and stepped into the first car. Chilled air sluiced down my neck, causing me to shiver uncontrollably for a moment. The elderly lady by the door glanced up from her knitting and looked curiously at me. I assembled a smile and asked her if this was the train to Jericho. Just double-checking. I was new to America, and cautious.

Merry Monteleone said...

The leaves were just turning that brown of death and flying in waves from the trees. Funny how quick they changed from the colorful confetti of reds and yellows in a splash so perfect that if you painted it on canvas no one would believe you. You had to stand in it, walk through it, and you could never truly capture it outside the experience – then it was gone. Left like so much garbage to litter the curbside and clog up the sewers. Jack Poverelli wasn’t paying attention to the scenery. He knew every crack in the sidewalk by heart and was too preoccupied with the mission at hand to care much for what the trees looked like. What they were good for was providing shadow, and Jack made sure to keep well inside the inky cover.

KSL said...

I had been married three years when I fell in love. Fell, collapsed, stepped off the curb and found nothing but air. Oh, I already loved my husband of course, but this was different. That had been a decision. This was out of my control, an impulse as difficult to resist as gravity.

slatercarol said...

non fiction/autobiography
The story begins in the small town of Kiminsky, Indiana in 1967. Carol is the author and middle child of seven biological siblings. The "Manning Family" was a typical all American family. Like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz I click my red ruby slippers and dream of going home, but instead of going home I wake up to yet another strange place over and over again- Lions, Tigers, and Bears Oh No! The Helter Skelter existence and transient lifestyle of this families (the Manning Family) is profoundly and vibrantly portrayed in a collection of true-life stories. Unpredictability awaits around every corner when the "Manning" children are split up and forced down a destructive path in an endless entourage of foster care, children homes, step families that never seem to work out A perpetual whirlwind of instability and confusion foreshadows this families past, present, and future as they desperately try to rebuild their lives over and over again.

sharon said...

I was daft to think I could sneak out of my house. My mother, the All-Seeing Eye, knew I yearned for freedom, so I was kept on a short lead like a dancing bear in a Gypsy caravan. But I thought I had it sorted. I sent my governess on a fool’s errand to Covent Garden, and I had enough time to return before her. Then my mother pitched up outside my bedroom and began to scold our scullery maid. Poor Emma was new, and Mother found fault with everything she did. Most likely she didn’t dust the potted aspidistra well enough, or something equally absurd.

J.S. Wood said...

This is from an edgy ya:

I open my eyes. Shit. I’m still alive. Why can’t he just go ahead and kill me? It has gotten dark and I wonder how long I've been out. I taste the rusty iron of my own blood and realize I bit my tongue. Musta done that to keep from screaming out. Won’t give him the satisfaction of hearing my scream.

Anonymous said...

You poor, poor man. Or, depending on your perspective, you rich, rich man, Nathan Bransford. Now you know how many people actually read your blog. Humbling, isn't it? Godspeed on working on this one. I can honestly say that they're all good, in their own ways. Amazing windfall of words.

jessjordan said...

Skylar leaned over the metal railing. Wild curls blanketed her hollow cheeks. I tried to think of something to say, anything to break the silence. It should’ve been easy, talking to the girl who had been my best friend since kindergarten, but easy left us behind months ago; it turned up the radio and looked away from the highway for just a second too long. And now, here we were, frozen in the aftermath.

Cindy Spencer Pape said...

Heidi knew they were in trouble before the first crate hit the water.

Jerel Law said...

Until Jonah Stone discovered that he was one-quarter angel, his life was pretty normal, for an eleven-year old kid. You might not think that being a fourth of anything is all that big of a deal, but trust me. It is. This was not the gooey and ickey “awww, he’s such an angel” comment that your lovey-dovey aunt might make after patting you on top of your head and squeezing your cheeks until you think one of them has fallen off. People say these kinds of things because they have never actually seen an angel. The truth is that angels aren’t very sweet. You don’t often see their wings and they most definitely are not sitting on clouds and strumming harps. That’s what you see on Saturday morning cartoons or greeting cards or the flashy broach your grandmother might wear.

inarticulate1 said...

My wife's pick is from my story entitled "Father's Day":

Jeremy ran his fingers along the polished edge of Father's mahogany desk. He didn't feel any residual magic, no threat of Father soaked into the pores of the ancient wood, nothing of that black spirit awaiting an opportunity for vengeance. He felt no guilt as he paced beside the bookshelves lining the study--bookshelves filled with volumes of spells, potions, and contracts to dark gods. He smelled the black candles on pedestals along the Persian rug, the musk potpourri to his senses. It was all his now, paid for in blood, sealed with his soul.

SFixe said...

A young mother bits her lip tasting her own blood as she struggles to hold down her daughter. Her screams bounced from wall to wall instantly searching out the attention of everyone in the shopping centre. She covers her daughters mouth struggling to muffle the words coming out of her mouth only to have the clear shopping bag she’d slid over her wrist cover her face, self-conscious and embarrassed by the crowd that was forming around her she flings the bag loose shifting her weight to keep her daughter restrained wondering if she should give up.

inarticulate1 said...

I was torn between "Father's Day" and "Elijah":

Bang. Though it was only his stepdad Harvey's fist slamming into the side of the trailer again, the sound still made Eli jump like a shotgun blast. He scrunched up against his headboard in an attempt to disappear. If he were stronger, braver, Eli would have given Harvey a taste of what Mother had been force-fed...but he wasn't. He was an underweight seventeen-year-old hiding from a drunken ex-soldier with a penchant for smashing up the family and their belongings.

Moth said...

The damned girl had run away again. Po didn’t understand why the Demon King kept her around. Po had worked for Him two months and the girl had already tried five separate times to run away. Seemed to Po the King had riches enough, power enough, and good-looks enough (when He wanted them) He could get a willing woman as His mistress. He didn’t need to kidnap some poor human girl off the street. But then the King didn’t pay Po to think, did he?

Beth said...

“I swear I didn’t do it!” I screamed, light years past any sense of propriety or self-control. The officer glanced at me. How could he not? But what kind of expression was on that sun-touched, brown-eyed face? Quizzical? Skeptical? Amused?

Maggie Dana said...

On my daughter’s first birthday I bought a bottle of cheap wine and drank myself senseless. On her second, I waved my husband off to work, then called in sick and went back to bed. I waited for memories to come, but nothing happened. My mind was stubbornly blank and I was seized by a blind panic that one day I’d pass Elizabeth in the street and not recognize her.

RCWriterGirl said...

How do you tell a person she’s about to die? Definitely not a phone call. Jasmine had decided that two days ago. That’s why she was on this train hurtling across the country toward Washington, D.C.

hannah said...

ANSELM PRICE DISEASE sounds much too clinical, but DEAD DANIEL DAYSWATER sounds like a comic book, which is the kiss of death when you're writing a comic book.

Caroline said...

Far beyond the Earth and the Moon and the crooked orbit of Pluto, a lonely asteroid wandered in the shadows. For thousands of years, the asteroid hung on the edge of the solar system where the Sun was only a marble of light. Visitors never ventured to this faraway corner of space where coldness spread like a hungry disease. Yet, despite the frozen temperatures and the finger-numbing cold, two creatures—--each the size of a ball of yarn—--kept a steady lookout on the little asteroid. For two days straight they had waited upon a rocky ledge, straining their ears to hear something.

The Author said...

It was the first time in months I had stopped running long enough to rest. A wave of nausea hit me as my stomach twisted in knots. I swallowed hard against the bile that rose in my throat and focused on my reflection in the window. The sleepless nights had taken their toll, my body had grown thin from its previous ample state and my once colorful and animated face devoid of make up now had a pale pallor and deep purple circles had developed under my eyes.

Matera the Mad said...

Radovin trudged around a low rise and saw a place of the dead where the Bull band's winter camp had been. He wobbled to a stop, winning a short battle with the bundle of firewood on his back.

Danielle Monson said...

he music swelled with a hundred voices raising the hymn to Peace. The choir was from St. Opus’s school just a little outside Marsport. The school's participation was a tradition. St Opus was the patron saint for mutations. A light dusting of snow started falling gently inside the Marsport main dome where the choir was singing. It was Christmas after all and Mars did keep an Earth calendar. Always had, even before the war. Shoppers hurried about in the underground tunnels leaving the aboveground snow to the St Opus orphans and those brave enough to show interest in them.

Dawn said...

Bobbi stood with her back pressed against Ethan’s bedroom door. What was she doing? This was completely unacceptable. She had Ethan—Mr. Blake—in protective custody; she could not fall for him. Her partner, Ray, had warned her. He’d seen it happening right in front of him and pointed out that she was the youngest agent given this detail in twenty years; her judgment needed to be above reproach. She had dismissed his concerns—dismissed them, that is, until their witness went off that roof.

V L Smith said...

I envied the other angels. Specifically their wings. Twenty-foot spans of sheer power, strong enough to whip up a tornado across Kansas or a monsoon off the coast of China, or so I'd heard. And the bittersweet musk of their feathers…ah, it spoke to me in a language incomprehensible by anyone outside the legion of the Holy Ones. It called to me, whispered my name, and turned my desire into painful need. If I had wings, then I could be somebody.

Missy said...

I open my eyes and am assaulted by a blinding white light. It feels like I’ve been asleep for a very long time. My eyes struggle to adjust to the intense illumination as I allow my body to stretch out to its full length. The numerous cracks and pops tell me that I must have been in the same position for too long.

«Oldest ‹Older   601 – 800 of 2650   Newer› Newest»
Related Posts with Thumbnails