Tag Archives: Open Prompts

The Silverware Man

This is the result of an Open Prompts challenge that I issued on Monday. I like what I came up with, although the hardest part to incorporate was the length, i.e. cutting it down to this size. Here are the elements that were suggested:

– a red leaf clinging to a tree, trying not to fall (submitted by Anja)

-the title, The Silverware Man (submitted by Chris De Voss)

-a character named Bartleby “Bud” Hobdringer VII (submitted by Miles Rost)

-a length of 555 words (submitted by Catherine)

-lots of water (submitted by Amy at The Bumble Files)

silverware 2

The Silverware Man

After ringing the funereal doorbell for five minutes, the door was finally opened by an old man in a shabby bathrobe.

“I’m sorry to keep you waiting,” he said. “I’m temporarily without a butler. How can I help you?”

“I came about the job,” I said.

He took the newspaper from my hand. “Ah, the silverware man. Come in. We have a very extensive silver collection. We used to have a very large staff, but I am afraid we are suffering a personnel shortage currently.”

He didn’t interview me, just offered to show me around. “Great,” I said, sticking out my hand. “Your name’s Bud, right? I asked in town.”

He shot me a look of disdain. “My name is Bartley Hobdringer VII. Please address me as Mr. Hobdringer, or sir.”

“Yes . . . sir.”

Our footsteps echoed off the dark walls of the entranceway and the smell of mold was strong in the air. A single bulb dangled from a dust-covered chandelier. The house looked deserted.

Most of the silverware was kept in the basement, which I found to be flooded. After wading through hip-deep water, I managed to carry out the warped and moldy boxes and clean them up. By the end of the day, the silverware gleamed and my hands were black with tarnish. I set the table in the palatial dining room: four forks, two knives and two spoons and waited while Mr. Hobdringer sat down with a can of sardines and an apple and fastidiously picked out a fork.

dining room

“I’m currently without a cook,” he said, almost apologetically.

“If you’d like, I could—”

He cut me off. “No, your job is just the silverware. We must do things right.”

He did not dismiss me or invite me to join him and I continued to stand there awkwardly while he ate.

“You must consider me a fool to live like this,” he said after a while. “How far I have fallen from the days of my grandfather, when this house was full of life.”

“I know I am fighting the inevitable, but still, I feel like I must fight,” he continued, speaking out into the gloomy expanse of the room. “I cannot sell this house, but I cannot keep it going either. I’m like the last dying leaf of autumn, fighting to stay on the tree, fighting against every icy blast for just another moment of being attached to everything I’ve always known. I fear falling.”

Life soon became very relaxed. My job was only to wash and polish the silver and set it out for meals—a job that occupied half an hour at most. A week later, Mr. Hobdringer gave me a vase in place of my salary. When the antique shop owner in town heard where I had gotten it, he nodded knowingly and gave me a good price.

Two weeks later, Mr. Hodringer did not come down for breakfast. I finally went looking for him and found him in bed, his body already cold. His leaf had finally fallen. On the desk was a note to me.


Your service, although brief, was much appreciated. Please take the silverware as your final payment. It will repay you well for your efforts. Thank you for bringing a gleam of the past back into my life.


Bartleby Hobdringer VII


I’m bored: Come on, give me a challenge

Okay, so I’m not really bored. In fact, I’m insanely busy. But that’s life.

I’ve decided to do another Open Prompts story this Friday. I haven’t done one in over a year, so for those of you who don’t know what that is, let me explain.

I take five story elements that you suggest (one per commenter, please) and write a story around them. Examples are:

– the title

– the genre (fantasy, mystery, horror, etc.)

– the tone (dark, humorous , serious, absurd, etc.)

– a character’s name or other details about them

– plot elements (e.g. a silver dagger, a rainstorm, identical twins, etc.)

– the length (something between 50 and 1500 words)

– anything else you feel like.

Nothing sexual, overly graphic, obscene, etc, but I’ll take the first five suggestions I get in the comments. Feel free to make them as random as you want. Come back on Friday to see what I make of it all. As always, you are free to write your own story around the same set of story elements. Please do, because that would be awesome.writing

The Killing Type (Part 2 of 2)

A few days ago, I posted a call for song suggestions. The idea was like my Open Prompts stories, except that I would use quotes from song lyrics in my story. Thank you to the people who gave me suggestions. They are, in the order they commented:

Arjun Bagga: Hank Williams Jr.’s “A Family Tradition

Miles Rost: Alphaville’s “Dance With Me

starlight: Patrick Park’s “Blackbird through the Dark

Michelle Proulx: Jack Johnson’s “Bubble Toes

The Bumble Files: Amanda Palmer’s “The Killing Type” (Also, obviously, the inspiration for the title)

I have linked the quotations from the songs to the place in the Youtube videos where they appear. This is Part 2 of the story, so you can read Part 1 here.


The Killing Type: Part 2

Cassandra looked over at Doug and saw the fierce delight in his eyes. He was staring at the squig-squill, like a gladiator staring down his doomed opponent in the ring.

“Come on, let’s just go,” Cassandra said, reaching out for his hand. He shook it away.

“Hold on, you gotta watch this.” Doug darted forward and held the knife in front of the squig-squill. The creature lashed out at the blade. A small splash of pale pink blood landed on the ground and it pulled back with a roar of pain.

“Hilarious, isn’t it?” Doug said, with a laugh. “It’ll keep attacking and hurting itself, it’s so stupid.”

“Doug, come on. Let’s go,” Cassandra said. She tugged on his arm, trying again to pull him back to the rover.

“Fine, let’s go,” he said at last. He darted forward again and stabbed the long knife through the squig-squill’s throat. The creature fell back and Doug stepped on its chest. Even with the thin atmosphere, Cassandra heard the crunch of breaking bones.

“What are you doing? Are you crazy?” she cried.

“What do you care? They’re just pests. I’m not going to leave it alive after I’ve found it.”

“But it didn’t attack us. It was just defending its home. How did you get in this condition, Doug? You weren’t like this four years ago.”

“It’s easy for you to say, Cassandra, living in Coventry in the middle of an empty plain. We fight these things every day up in the mountains. They hide in the mines, they ambush the transports. We wiped out a lot of them before we started digging, but still they keep coming back, again and again. We need to wipe this planet clean, and then there will be peace. Stay here a minute.” Doug stepped over the body of the squig-squill and disappeared behind the bushes.

“Where are you going?” she asked. He didn’t answer.

Cassandra followed him through the bushes. In front of them, the ravine came to an abrupt end and was covered with a screen of woven plants. Doug ripped it aside, revealing what looked like a pile of fur, until a head raised out of it, hissing and snarling.

Doug kicked the pile apart and a handful of scrawny younglings tumbled out of it. A female had been covering them with her body. The female attacked Doug’s legs with its teeth, but they had no effect against the metal shin guards built into his suit. He kicked it off and stepped on one of the younglings, slowly crushing it into the ground.

“Stop it!” Cassandra screamed. “Let’s just go. Please, Doug!”

This is a mercy killing, Cassandra,” he said. “These ones are dead anyway. If the female goes to get them food, they’ll freeze and if she doesn’t, they’ll starve. She won’t go, so they’ll all die slowly together. It’s a foregone conclusion anyway, so might as well get into it, right?” He gave her a grin as he moved from youngling to youngling. Crunch. Crunch. Crunch-crunch-crunch. “My jellyfish dance, Cassandra. No rhythm, so but I’ve got some deadly moves. Come dance.”

“You monster!” she shouted. It wasn’t just the killing; it was the look of joy on his face as he crushed the little creatures under his heavy boots.

He stopped smiling and looked hurt. “Geez, it was just a joke. Sorry.” Crunch. “It’s got to be done—I was just putting a good face on it.” Crunch.

“Would you just stop!” she shouted, so loud he put his hand up to his ear in pain. The female was crawling back towards him and he stepped away from it.

“What do you want, Cassandra? We can’t live on this planet in peace with these things, and if they’re going to attack us, someone has to stop them. And I’m good at it. I saw you when you were dancing, with that look of joy on your face, oblivious to the rest of the world. You know that desire that burns a hole you’ll never fill with anything else. You have dancing and I have hunting. You’re the dancing type; I guess I’m the killing type.”

She looked into his face and saw with horror that he was right. He had become a killer, and he loved it. He turned around. “Go back and wait at the rover. I’m just going to take care of this last one.” He held up the knife and took a step towards the female squig-squill.

Cassandra ran at him and shoved him to the side. Doug tried to step to the side to maintain his balance, but he tripped on a rock and fell face down. His scream of pain reverberated inside her helmet. She ran to him and pulled him over and gasped when she saw the knife sticking out of his chest.

“Doug, I’m sorry,” she said. “I’m so sorry.”

“Killer,” he whispered, and for a moment, she saw his familiar, teasing grin touch the corners of his mouth before the life went out of his eyes.

Cassandra stayed kneeling for a moment until she remembered the squig-squill behind her. She jumped up, but it was nowhere near her. It was picking up the crushed little bodies that were scattered around the dell and arranging them by the rock wall. Then, as she watched, it made its way out through the bushes and lay down, covering the body of the dead squig-squill with its own.

Cassandra pushed the button on the com, trying to keep the tears out of her voice. Still, her voice quavered when she spoke. “Akash, come get me. There’s been an accident.”

*         *         *

Coventry Outpost was a storm of rumors, but all anyone knew for sure was that Doug Rankin, the son of Camellia Outpost’s commander, was dead. Cassandra sat in her room, confined there by her father while they sorted things out. After an hour, her parents came in. Her mother sat down and hugged her tightly.

“This is a horrible tragedy,” her father said, “but I think we’ve found a way for some good to come from it. Here is what you are going to tell everyone: you were walking with Doug when you were attacked by a group of squig-squills. He tried to defend you and killed a lot of them, but then several hit him from behind and he fell, accidentally stabbing himself with his knife. Akash is willing to testify that he was worried about you and came to find you, arriving just in time to scare them off.”

“What good could come from that?” Cassandra asked softly. She felt as if all the energy was drained out of her. The world was a more confusing place than it had been, just hours before.

“You pushed him and he died,” her mother said. “Some people might consider that manslaughter, and that could even carry the death penalty if Rankin pushes for it. He is inconsolable. But there were no witnesses; there’s no reason we should even go through that.”

“Plus, now I’ll have a pretext to start hunting them again,” her father said. “The commander seems to think that since they’re not attacking us at the moment, we have to maintain some sort of truce with them. But their numbers are just increasing and some day there may be enough to attack Coventry itself. Remember the Magnolia.

“No, I’m not going to tell them that,” Cassandra said. “I’m not going to let you hunt them. I saw them, Dad. They’re intelligent, and it would be wrong.”

“You would throw away everything because of them?” Her father’s voice was full of disgust and disbelief. “You would possibly even die for those things—our mortal enemy?”

“I’m not a killer, Dad,” Cassandra said. “I’m sorry. I guess I broke the family tradition.”

coventry outpost

The Killing Type (Part 1 of 2)

A few days ago, I posted a call for song suggestions. The idea was like my Open Prompts stories, except that I would use quotes from song lyrics in my story. Thank you to the people who gave me suggestions. They are, in the order they commented:

Arjun Bagga: Hank Williams Jr.’s “A Family Tradition

Miles Rost: Alphaville’s “Dance With Me

starlight: Patrick Park’s “Blackbird through the Dark

Michelle Proulx: Jack Johnson’s “Bubble Toes

The Bumble Files: Amanda Palmer’s “The Killing Type” (Also, obviously, the inspiration for the title)

I have linked the quotations from the songs to the place in the Youtube videos where they appear. The story is about 2500 words, so I split it into two parts. The second part will be posted tomorrow.

The Killing Type: Part 1

He finally found her, dancing alone in the stardust dawn underneath the crystal roof of the power station. She was twirling and pirouetting with utter abandon, her eyes closed and her feet splashing through the oil and waste water on the floor.

“Cassandra,” he said at last, hating to break the spell of her dancing.

Cassandra stopped and looked up, then her eyes widened. “Doug? Is that really you?” She flitted up to the steel ladder and gave him a hug. “Stars, you got tall in a hurry. When did you get here?”

“An hour ago, maybe,” he said, grinning. “It took me most of that time to find you. What are you doing here, in this filth?”

“It’s the only place I can be alone and still see the stars,” Cassandra said. “I don’t want to dance where people can see me. I was born in Coventry Outpost but still, the close quarters, always being near everyone else—it gets to me.”

“But at what price?” Doug asked. He indicated her bare feet that were covered with tar balls and scars.

“It’s worth it,” she said and suddenly laughed. “Tell me what’s happening with you. I haven’t seen you in four years.”

“It’s a great life out there on the frontier. I’m working with my father to expand Camellia Outpost. We just built the smelter and factory.” He paused. “I missed you.”

“I missed you too,” she said. She took his hand. “Hey, do you want to dance with me?”

“I’m not really the dancing type. I’ve got no rhythm.”

“Bah! I remember you. You’re slow and graceful, like a jellyfish. When you move like a jellyfish, rhythm don’t mean nothing.”

“Jellyfish are deadly too, though,” Doug said. “Hey, I know what we can do. Have you ever killed a squig-squill before?”


“I’ve gotten really good at it—you gotta be out where I live. I can hit one with an air rifle at 50 meters. You wanna try?”

Cassandra looked up into his eager, expectant face and let go of his hand. “I’m really not the killing type,” she said.

He nodded. “Okay, okay. But let’s go find some anyway, just to look at. Have you ever seen one?”

“Only in pictures.” Cassandra had seen lots of pictures of squig-squill bodies that had been killed back when she was a baby. They looked like limp bags of fur with claws sticking out of them. Her father was head of patrols and boasted about killing hundreds of them. These days, though, the outpost commander forbade them from hunting squig-squills unless they passed the outer perimeter of the outpost.

“You gotta see one up close,” Doug said. “I’ve gotten really good at finding their nests. So, you wanna?”

“Isn’t it dangerous? What about the Magnolia?” The very first manned mission to Asteria had been attacked and annihilated by squig-squills, back when Cassandra’s parents were children on Earth. The legend lived on, though, and every child in Coventry had to memorize the names of the ten astronauts killed.

“That was back when we didn’t know how to deal with them. Trust me; there’s no danger at all.” Doug gave her a reassuring smile.

“It’s pretty far to walk, though,” she persisted. “The outer perimeter is 5 km out and there aren’t any squig-squills within that.”

“Listen,” Doug said, as if he were imparting a secret, “I’ve got a rover.” His eyes were shining. “It’s the first one we’ve built at the factory. That’s how I got here; I drove it and my dad drove a transport.” He caught up her hand and squeezed it. “I know that before I left, we used to be just good friends—”

“More than just friends,” Cassandra said, smiling.

“We would have been, if I hadn’t had to leave.” He suddenly leaned in and kissed her. It felt good and she would have kept kissing him, but he straightened up with an impish grin.

“Fine, go show me a squig-squill,” she said and he hugged her again. Cassandra wiped off her feet, put her boots back on and then led the way out to the vehicle dock.

The commander of Coventry Outpost was hosting a banquet in honor of Doug’s father, Commander Frederick Rankin, and almost the entire population of Coventry Outpost was squeezed into the main dome. The only person Cassandra and Doug met on the way out was Akash, the guard at the airlock gate.

“I just heard over the com that they’re looking for you two, you know,” he said, giving them a knowing smile.

“They can’t be looking very hard,” Doug said.

“No, they’re not,” Akash said, “and they probably think you’re off somewhere, catching up. Which I guess you are.” He pushed the button to open the airlock. “Don’t go far, and stay on the com.”

“Yessir,” Doug said with a salute. He gunned the engine and the rover sped out over barren plain.

For Cassandra—sitting behind Doug with her arms around his waist—the feeling of speed and openness was heavenly. She was only able to leave the outpost every 20 days or so, and that was just to walk around the perimeter and check the instruments. Red dirt and sand covered all the land as far as she could see. Asteria’s blazing sun was just over the horizon and the light sparkled and flashed in the upper atmosphere. Above them, tethered lightdomes hung in the upper atmosphere, gathering energy and providing the outpost with its communications. Through the lightdomes shining in the sky, the last of the night’s stars burned in the midnight blue expanse.

Doug drove them out past the perimeter and up into the foothills of the rocky spine that led from Coventry to Camellia, 200 km away. Small, scrubby plants began to appear among the rocks, interspersed with icy pools.

They came to a ravine cut in the rocks and Doug stopped the rover. “This is the kind of place you’d find them in,” he said.

Cassandra heard his voice through the speaker in her helmet. He pointed to a white smear on the rocks, about a foot off the ground. “Look there. They leave those around a lot too. To mark their territory or something.”

Doug took Cassandra’s hand and led her towards the ravine. The light of the sun was blocked by the rocks and the ravine was in deep gloom.

“Is this safe?” she asked. “How will we know where they are?” She noticed that he had drawn a long knife and was holding it in front of him. “What’s that for?”

“The males are aggressive. Best not to take chances.”

Before they could take another step, Cassandra heard a high-pitched roar. It sounded faint and far-off in the thin air. A squig-squill burst out of the bushes, blocking their path. This looked nothing like the limps bundles of fur she had seen in pictures. Its small, misshapen head was stretched out on a thin neck and flicked back and forth, mouth open and menacing. It moved its clawed limbs in circles in front of it, but did not attack.

(to be concluded, here)

A Cup of Music and a Slice of Fiction

Do you have certain music you always listen to when you are reading or writing—music that seems to go perfectly with the words on the page? Music can be important for framing the mood of a story. A friend of mine, Miles Rost, is very interested in the relationship between music and fiction. He has recently started a blog called Music and Fiction where he melds songs into his stories. Check it out.

cup of music

Also, in honor of him, I am announcing the next story in my Open Prompts series, which admittedly has been on hold for a while. In the past, I asked people to give me story elements that I used to write a story.

However, for this one, I’m asking you to suggest a song name in the comments, with a link to it on Youtube. Anything with English lyrics is fine—go nuts. I will write a story using at least one quote from each of the songs, linking the song to the quote, so you can tell where it is. If you suggest a song, I’ll credit you in the post.

I’ll take the first five song suggestions that I get and post my story on Friday. If you’re up for it, write a story using the same set of songs. Post your story any time, but send me a link so I can read it.

Assa! (Nanowrimo is over)

Well, it’s done, it’s over, “I’m back,” he said. It may be an arbitrary goal, but I have crawled past the Nanowrimo 50,000 word finish line, more dead than alive.

Actually, it wasn’t that bad, but I need to get out all the melodrama I kept from my story. The story is not quite finished and it’s a messy, scruffy first draft, but it has potential.

I’m looking forward to posting fiction here regularly again. On the agenda: “The Making of the Squid”, the back story Edward “the Squid” Morrison in the Aftermath series.

Also, besides the Open Prompts stories that I have done in the past, I am starting something I, most unoriginally, am calling Semi-Open Prompts. This is where I ask one person to give me a bunch of prompts and then I write a story with them. I’ll probably do one a month or so. The first set of prompts was provided to me by Sharmishthra Basu and the story will be posted within a week or so.

(By the way, if you’re curious, assa (앗싸) is the Korean exclamation for when something really good happens, kind of like Yes! or Alright! in English. It rhymes with the Spanish word casa, but the “s” sound in the middle is really long. Now you can say you know Korean 😉 )

Wine and Spirits

The third in the Open Prompts series. The story prompts are:

    1. 200 words ( my suggestion but I cheated: it’s actually about 570 words)
    2. a (possibly) haunted house (suggested by Tessa Sheppard)
    3. someone with an OCD problem (suggested by Amy at The Bumble Files)
    4. a rare bottle of wine (suggested by Christopher De Voss)
    5. the mention of an alien/terminator (suggested by Ripley Connor)
    6. a shift in tone from funny to sinister (suggested by Sharmishtha Basu)

It was Halloween and the mansion of Lord Fufflington was crowded with party-goers. The sommelier, Roderick, was busy in the private dining room of the lord.

“Oh, Roderick, can you recommend a good wine?” Lord Fufflington asked. “Maybe something white.”

Roderick sighed inwardly at hearing his entire profession boiled down to one of two colors.

“Sir, I recommend a 2001 Chateau d’Yquem.” The lord waved his approval and Roderick headed for the wine cellar.

He passed a female Terminator and a smaller alien on the stairs and shooed aside a decapitated Spongebob, who was smoking in front of the wine cellar door. Inside, he found Sailor Moon making out with Captain Jack Sparrow. After kicking these out, he found the right bottle of wine and was about to leave when he noticed something that made him gasp. It was the rarest bottle in the cellar, a bottle of 1953 Domaine de la Romanee . . . on the wrong rack.

It was a travesty. He had only been the sommelier of the manor for a month, but he had totally reorganized the wine cellar in that time. The old system had been some jumble of arcane nonsense instead of his new way: reverse alphabetic order by the last name of the vineyard’s original owner. Some party-goer must have moved the bottle. He carefully restored it to its correct place, aligned the label correctly, and brought the Chateau d’Yquem upstairs, locking the door behind him.

As soon as he reached the dining room, Lord Fufflington called him over. “We’ll need another bottle, it seems, Roderick. Lord Kigglistump has just arrived.” He motioned to an obese man whose body was straining against the neoprene rabbit costume he was wearing.

Roderick returned to the cellar and got another bottle of Chateau d’Yquem. On his way out, he saw that two other bottles had been moved. On the side of one dusty magnum was a note rubbed in the dust: Wine must be arranged by phenolic content only! – Diogenes, the butler.

So the butler did it! It was obvious. Roderick stormed upstairs, intent on informing Lord Fufflington. However, the wine requests kept pouring in and he was kept busy running to and from the wine cellar all night. Every time he entered, more bottles were moved and more notes were left in dust, in the dirt, or scratched in wood. They demanded that he return to the old system and threatened him grievous harm if he didn’t. The last even threatened to stab him in the throat in his sleep if he didn’t stop arranging the bottles in his own way.

That was the last straw. Roderick stormed upstairs and into the dining room, interrupting Lord Fufflington in the middle of a bawdy anecdote involving a hang glider and the constellation Andromeda.

“Sir, I must insist that the butler stop interfering with my organization of the wine cellar. He has been rearranging wine bottles all night.”

“That’s impossible, man,” Fufflington said. “The butler has been away all night at a private function.”

“He must have returned early then,” Roderick said. “In any case, tell Diogenes to stay away from my wine cellar.”

“Diogenes?” Lord Fufflington said. “The butler’s name is Ramses. Diogenes was the old butler. He died ten years ago tonight. Why, Ramses is at his memorial right now. I saw, Roderick, you’ve turned all pale and—I say! You just dropped that expensive bottle of wine on the floor. Are you sure you’re really cut out to be a sommelier?”

Open Prompts #3

It’s been a few weeks, but here is the third installment of Open Prompts, where you tell me what to write, and then join me if you feel the muse move you.

The first two attempts produced Klutz and Saturday 4am, which has its own recurring story line and music video.

This time, I’m going to set the length at about 200 words. That’s pretty short, so I’m only going to take 3 prompts. If you have an idea, write it in the comments and I’ll include it in the story and credit you at the beginning. Pretty much anything goes, from the tone, genre and title, to characters, setting or objects in the story. Go nuts!

Story elements:

  1. Length: 200 words

I’ll post the story this Friday, October 12. See you then~


Saturday, 4am

This is the second story in the Open Prompts series. Because of the length constraint, it is not a full story, on the beginning. More will come, I promise. Here were the story elements suggested:

1. Title: “Saturday, 4am” (suggested by me)
2. Length: about 700 words (suggested by Reality of Christ)
3. vinyl records (suggested by Alastair)
4. A character named Edward “the Squid” Morrison (suggested by Christopher De Voss)
5. Genre: post-apocalyptic sci-fi (suggested by jomiddleton)
6. an android sidekick (suggested by Exit Fresh)

Edward Morrison was the unofficial king of the decaying residential area known as Free Frall. He worked alone, by night, collecting and gathering and making his influence felt among the ragged collection of survivors that haunted the rotting suburb. They would pay him a share of what they found by virtue of what he called “personality”. They called him the Squid, and he liked it.

Free Frall was in the wrong place for revival. It was too close to the bomb-blasted epicenter that had been London, but too far from the enclave of Cambridge, where a determined remnant tried to piece a civilization back together.

Edward checked his device screen. It was Saturday, 4 am. It was funny—five billion people dead and most of the rest living like trolls, but they still knew the day and the time, thanks to Cambridge. Technology galore, but no food.

He was in an area he rarely went to—the rusted sign named the cul-de-sac Brighton Circle. The last stop of the night. There was a house he had his eye on.


It was 4am and Joseph Watson was just getting ready to go to bed when he heard a creak from the stairs leading down to his cellar home. Droog, a dwarf-sized robot, whirred over to the door and did a scan. The light on his shoulder went red. Joseph was just reaching for his gun when the door flew open and Edward “the Squid” Morrison stepped in.

“What do you want, Squid?” Joseph said, trying to sound unconcerned.

“Joseph, so this is where you’ve been hiding!” Edward said, with a big smile. “I heard you were dead, but then I kept hearing rumors. I’m glad to see you.”

“Yeah, I’ll bet you are. You always took whatever you wanted from me,” Joseph said. “What—what can I get for you?” he added quickly, as Edward started to walk around the cluttered room with an appraising eye.

“Just seeing what you’ve found—you always did get the best junk. Where did you find this thing?” He toed Droog, who was following him around, still scanning him.

“It’s a ‘Munculus Bot. A guy in Cambridge found a bunch and is fixing them up and trading them. His name is Droog. He doesn’t know English.”

“I wouldn’t think you’d be too attached to it then,” Edward said. “Hey, what do you got here?” He picked up a thin, black disc and was rewarded when Joseph jumped up, fear plain on his face.

“You don’t want that, Squid. Here, take Droog if you’d like. Please, just—put it down.” Edward raised his eyebrows and started to twirl the disc in his fingers.

“Okay, I’ll tell you,” Joseph said. “Just—be careful. It’s music.”

“Music? Like hum-tunes? Why would I want that?”

“This is music from Before. There are tiny grooves that hold the music. No, not like that,” he said quickly as Edward held up the vinyl record to his ear. “I wrote an instruct for the scanner on my device to read them. Here.”

Joseph set the record down on the desk and placed his E-device in a wire frame that suspended it above the record. Then he turned it on and a tiny laser flashed rapidly around the black disc.

A sound unlike anything Edward had ever heard started to pour from the device’s speaker. It was a woman singing strong and clear in a strange language. It had such tragic and haunting tones that Edward involuntarily closed his eyes. It was as if a window had been opened out onto another world, but it was too dark to see more than an inch beyond the frame. And he so desperately wanted to see. The music soared and dipped and finally, faded away.

“What is she saying, in the music?” Edward asked.

“It’s another language,” Joseph said, with a shrug. “They say there were hundreds of them, Before. Maybe there still are, somewhere.”

“Where did you get this?” Edward asked. “Tell me, please.”

“I traded the four I have from a wanderer named Ryan. He makes runs from here to Cambridge and around. I’ve asked for more, but he hasn’t gotten me any. Please, take Droog if you want, but not the discs.”

“Fine, I’ll take Droog instead, but only if you give me the instruct for playing the music.”

“Okay, I guess. You’re going to go find more?”

Edward was, but that wasn’t all. Hearing that song at 4 am on Saturday was like uncovering a pearl in a mound of filth. It was something that for years had remained unsullied by the decay around it. There must be more, and he was going to find it.

(Mireille Mathieu – “Exodus”)

Open Prompts #2

This is the second call for story elements in a series I’m calling Open Prompts (I’m not entirely sure I like that name though, so if you have a better suggestion, let me know). The result of the first Open Prompts was my story “Klutz” and originolS’s story “$0.99 Only”.

If you have a suggestion for a story element, post it in the comments. It’s pretty open, but here are some examples:

– the title

– the genre (fantasy, mystery, horror, etc.)

– the tone (dark, humorous , serious, absurd, etc.)

– a character’s name or other details about them (just one character at a time, though)

– plot elements (e.g. a silver dagger, a rainstorm, identical twins, etc.)

– the length (something between 50 and 1500 words)

– anything else you feel like.

I’m going to use six story elements, suggesting the first one myself to get the ball rolling. I know everyone has their own blogging/writing schedule, but if you’d like to join me, I’d be thrilled to read your story based on the same story elements.

Story elements:

  1. The title is: “Saturday, 4am”

Have fun! Be creative! I’ll post the story this Friday.

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