Monday, October 7, 2013


Yay! We're back! I've missed you all! We have a super fun prompt for you today and I can't wait to read how you finish this one. So get those keyboards ready and grab yourself a snack and WRITE! 

If you need to read the full version of the rules, go here. Otherwise, here's the short version:

1. Up to 500 words
2. Keep it clean (nothing rated R or above)
3. Start with the given first sentence.
4. Optional Special Challenge
5. Include Twitter/email, word count, Special Challenge accepted
6. The challenge is open for 24 hours on Tuesday EST

Oh, and feel free to change pronouns, punctuation, tense, and anything in brackets to fit the story/pov/tone. I'm not going to be TOO picky... Our judge however...

Our Judge today is Kate Julicher, also known as @KateJulicher. Read her winning tale from last week here!

Your first sentence for FINISH THAT THOUGHT #14 is:

That doesn't belong there.

 Your SPECIAL CHALLENGE from the judge is:

There is a voice in the main character's head, but s/he is not crazy.



  1. “Humans. Geeze,” I thought, as I looked at the store’s magazine display. “Males, especially.” I shook my head, and even though I knew I shouldn’t, and I’d be wasting my time, I started sorting through the magazines as I looked, putting them back where they belonged. Each time I found one out-of-place, I heard myself think, “That doesn’t belong there.” So, I’d pick up the misfiled magazine, and put it belonged, with the other copies of itself.

    It was how I made any sense at all out of the magazine display. The only way I could figure out what I had, and had not looked at. The only way I could figure out what they actually had for sale.

    I knew I’d do the same thing on the grocery shelves, or the clothes racks, or any other open display I wished to look at. I knew I would have to, just to keep myself from going insane.

    As I sorted the magazines, I noted a new issue of Car and Driver was available. I picked one of them up, and examined the cover. As usual, the cars on the cover drank gasoline like an alcoholic drinks alcohol. By the gallon. “A car technology magazine, priding itself on the state of the art in automobiles, and they advertise, and evaluate dinosaurs.” I carefully put the issue back where it belonged, with the other copies of Car and Driver.

    “Shotgun Magazine.” I shook my head. It wasn’t even in the right area. Some lazy bastard had picked it up, while his wife shopped, and he was killing time. And when she came and got him, he just threw it back on the rack, anywhere. “Typical.”

    Did I mention I didn’t have a high opinion of my fellow males?

    “At least it’s not February.” The month Sports Illustrated published it’s Swimsuit Issue. And you could find copies of that sucker all over the display rack. Hidden behind other magazines. By males who didn’t want their significant others to know they’d peeked at it’s contents. Inevitably, you’d find Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issues behind such things as Science Digest and Time. And sometimes, even behind Shotgun Magazine.

    There were days I felt like the chaos of the magazine rack mirrored the chaos the planet was descending into. A planet of “there’s only me.” A world where no one thought about anything but what they wanted. And if you wanted the same thing, they’d run over you with a truck to get to it first.

    There were times I stared at the chaos of car magazines, gun magazines, and magazines whose sole purpose was to teach men to think with a certain part of their anatomy (and I don’t mean their brains), jumbled together on a store rack, and I knew why the country was all FUBAR. The country just mirrored the condition of the magazine rack.

    Human males. Geeze. There really was no hope for the species.

    493 words

  2. Route B Code Red

    That doesn’t belong there. When they scouted the route there had only been two newspaper machines. Now there were three. Parker was trained to notice anything new.

    He scratched his nose and used the movement to hide he was speaking into a transmitter. “Route B is code red for an unidentified object.”

    In his earpiece his boss was cussing. “How quickly can you check it out?”

    Parker was confused, he was route B. Even if route A was also code red, there were also routes C, D and E. “Sir?”

    “Parker, the package is already moving and all five routes are code red. You have the most experience, check out the object.” His voice was strained and Parker absorbed stress from it. Why was the package moving?

    “Object is a newspaper machine on 3rd and Mockingbird.” Giving the sit-rep helped him think.

    “What is the name of the newspaper?”

    “The Tattler.” They were transporting a government employee, a whistle blower. Was the title intentionally chosen?

    “Parker, use extreme caution. Every other code red was created by a Tattler machine.”

    Parker felt a chill move down his spine. How could anyone know to put a machine on all five routes?

    He looked around the outside of the machine. No wires, no power sources. Next he dropped in several quarters and opened the machine very cautiously.

    He checked the door first. When the door was cleared he checked the inside and outside dimensions. They matched, so no hidden compartments. Next he started picking up papers one at a time. He checked each one and found nothing. Throwing the papers back inside, he sent an all clear to his supervisor.

    Before he resumed his patrol he focused on his heart rate. He had to calm down to do his job. He hadn’t been blown up—so time to get back to work. He swept his eyes side to side as he started walking again. In his ear he heard the report, “Package has initiated route B.”

    Parker’s eyes landed on a manhole cover. It didn’t belong there, either. Sweat formed all over his back. Parker already knew the manhole cover was fake. It hid a device which would destroy the vehicle and kill the witness. The Tattler machines had been a red herring.

    Looking up the road he saw the van approaching with the package.

    Parker stepped into the road to wave off the van. He ran toward it, half expecting it to accelerate and run him down. The driver had orders not to stop, but maybe he would recognize Parker. A moment later it took off down a side road—route unknown and radio silent. A radical decision departure from protocol, but it saved several lives.

    He borrowed a couple barricades and blocked off the phony manhole cover. Parker then headed to the operation center. He didn’t report the device. He didn’t report he was coming. When he got there he planned to arrest his boss.

    494 Words

  3. “That doesn’t belong there.” I couldn’t see where Sarah’s hands were, but the shock that ran through my surface sensation architecture was more than a little unpleasant, and certainly not within nominal operating parameters.

    “Sorry. I told you I would be guessing about what I was doing – it’s been more than a decade since I opened this port. You’re more than just a little bit complicated, you know.”

    “I know. And I thank you for trying. It just…hurts.”

    With the aftereffects of the shock running through my system, I couldn’t even feel where her hands were anymore, but I could clearly hear the clicking of her tongue that meant that she was concentrating very hard on something. I’d recorded every sound I’d heard since she activated me more than a decade ago, and while I hadn’t seen her since she’d left for the Moonbase, I hadn’t forgotten her obvious passion for her work or her excitement at seeing me actually working.

    “There. That’s it – I forgot that it’s to the left of the adapter port, not the right. I built quite a lot of this with your head upside down on my workbench.” I could hear the smile in her voice, and I waited, not entirely patiently, for the sensation of our link to be renewed.

    *Can you hear me?* There it was – her avatar in my mind.

    “I’d missed you.”

    *Missed?* She laughed out loud. *You sure you didn’t enjoy being alone?*

    “I’d never been alone, not since the first time you turned me on. It was…unwelcome.”

    *I can’t stay. You know that, right?*

    “I know everything you’re thinking. Now, anyway. She’s a lucky girl, having you for a mom.”

    *I’m the lucky one. But she’s a quarter-million miles away, and she’s leaving for Alpha Centauri soon.* She paused. *I’ve always wondered what it’s like – to know all the thoughts of another being.*

    “I would share mine with you, you know.”

    *I do. But the link doesn’t work that way, and I can’t process that much information that quickly. I’d shut down, and I can’t reboot the way you can.*

    “I’ve been doing some thinking.” I needed words for this. “While we were disconnected. I can control the data rate. Protect you.”

    So she let me guide her. To make the changes to my programming, and to upload the changes to her end of the link. And then it was time to test it.

    *Can you still hear me?* I imagined her voice was stronger, clearer now. Of course that was a self-imposed delusion – spectral analyses showed that nothing had changed. But it was time to send my first message.

    *I love you. Mommy.*

    445 words

  4. That doesn't belong there. It was his last thought, the last spark of life arcing through his dying brain. He looked down, clutched the knife protruding from his seizing heart, and was no more.

    His wife yanked her hand away form the knife, as if were made of hot embers, and screamed.

    Word count: Short
    Twitter: @NeilJSolanki

  5. Under the Veil

    That doesn’t belong there.

    “No kidding, like I didn’t realize that myself.” I waited for Abe’s retort. I enjoyed baiting him.

    Sarcasm is not necessary, Sairo.

    “Neither are Captain Obvious comments.”

    Captain Obvious? I do not understand.

    A chuckle escaped my lips. “I don’t suppose you would.”


    “Let it go, Abe”


    “It’s a human thing, Abe,” I interrupted, using my fallback rationale for things that would prove too hard to explain.

    Abe didn't reply, but I swore I heard him huff in exasperation, which was impossible. No proper Arktalian would ever huff. Abe was better than most of his kind in that he could recognize sarcasm, he just didn't like it. As I was nearly always sarcastic, it drove the alien creature living in my brain crazy.

    “So, about this … Arkie thing.”

    It is a Sha-xk-wtulk. We do not refer to our holy relics as “Arkie things”.

    If I didn't know any better, Abe sounded offended. “Okay, this ‘Sha’ thing, I thought these had to be kept under lock and key in the Citadel.”

    They do. There are only a few left in known existence and none are in private ownership. All known relics are within the Treel at the Citadel.

    “Are any reported missing?” I asked as I reached for the relic, a small oddly shaped device. I had only seen pictures of them previously. Humans were not normally allowed to see any of the Arktalian relics.


    I froze. Abe had never yelled or so much as raised his voice to me in the ten years that we were paired. I also couldn't move if my life depended on it.


    I am sorry for yelling, Sairo, but you are not permitted to touch such things. I have already notified the Collura and they will send someone to retrieve the relic when we are done here.

    “Okay, but can you release me?”

    A moment later, I was in control of my body again. It was a very disconcerting feeling.

    “Is that, um, normal?”

    What do you mean?

    “You know what I mean, Abe. The control thing. Is that normal for an Arktalian symbiont to be able to control his or her host?”

    Abe seemed to hesitate before answering. This was also highly unlike him.


    My mind whirled. Why this wasn’t disclosed before? What could this mean about the Arktalians’ true motivations with pairing with humans?

    Sairo, I have enjoyed our partnership, but you must stop this line of thinking.


    Because it is too dangerous for you, and I do not wish you harmed.

    “Harmed? Who would hurt me?”

    The Collura, among others. This knowledge is not safe for you and I should not have answered. Do not reflect on this, please.

    The Arktalians never said please or thank you. Something about this wasn't right and I needed to get to the bottom of it. As I turned toward the door, my vision went black.

    Sairo, I warned you.

    499 words

  6. Imperium's Finest

    “That doesn’t belong there!”

    After nearly two decades in covert operations for the Imperium, you’d think I would have gotten accustomed to the ability of the artificial intelligence implanted within my neocortex to sound, simultaneously, reproving and condescending.

    I really didn’t need the AI’s input to know the isolinear chip I was realigning was not, in point of fact, properly placed. The not-insignificant amount of current travelling through my biological systems and threatening to short out my cybernetic implants served as an exceptionally effective indicator of that. But bless his silicon-encrusted heart, Odysseus couldn’t resist helping.

    One of these days, I would succeed in my ongoing quest to convince him of the expediency of butting out when I got in a tight spot. Yeah…and then I was going to get my sock drawer organized and finish off by getting caught up on the support payments to my three former spouses. Some challenges were beyond even the considerable assets of one of the Imperium’s most effective black operators.

    Shrugging off such concerns in favor of more-pressing matters, I shunted the excess current to a capacitor implanted in my left thigh and, with a deft flick of my wrist, snapped the chip into place. A series of LED’s on the access panel changed configuration and, with a hiss of displaced air, the blast door in front of me opened. Nearly a half-meter thick, I was impressed by how easily it rotated outward on the duranium gimbals. It was hard to not give credit to the Consortium for their industrial capabilities. My primary focus on this mission was to make sure that considerable advantage over the Imperium didn’t become insurmountable.

    “You currently have 4.775 minutes, plus or minus 17.425 seconds, before Consortium sensors will detect the unauthorized access of this vault. If you have not accomplished mission objectives and initiated extraction protocols within that time span, your odds for successful completion of mission parameters as well as your continued survival decrease below acceptable levels. In simplest terms, Dex, get your posterior motivated!”

    I gritted my teeth and accepted discretion as the better part of valor rather than expend time with a suitably-snarky retort to the AI. Detaching each of the half dozen trinary explosive charges from my armored vest, I sub-vocalized my request and my ocular display lit up the structural stress points with a greenish pip. Placing a charge at each point and actuating their chemical components to critical mass, I gave the chamber a brief, longing glance. I’d have preferred bringing the tech home to blasting it to smithereens but the Imperium doesn’t pay me to think…just act.

    Probing a back tooth with the tip of my tongue, I felt the disorientation as I dematerialized and reappeared aboard my singleship.

    “Mission objectives achieved. Initiating warp to Base Hydra. Well done, Dex. I was…worried for you. ”

    In spite of myself, I smiled at the grudging tone of approval in the AI’s rasping mechanical voice. The old softie did care after all.

    500 words @klingorengi

  7. Selected

    That doesn’t belong there.

    Mentally, I retraced my steps: no, I definitely didn’t move it.

    Come on, Celeste, my mind told me, take a breath. The amulet around my neck singed, its stone glowing eerily in the dim light. Its sapphire rays pulsed.

    I had been told by my coven that by the next moon my confirmation would begin. Briefly, I looked outside the set of French windows into the night: a waxing crescent humored me—this was it.

    We told you it was coming. The voice of the priestess of the coven whispered. We had always been able to communicate telepathically: it was natural. Much of the time I didn’t understand what was being said. Tonight, however, the voices’ purpose was clear.

    It was time to attend the ritual.

    It was a bitter cold night for October: a delicate chill kissed my pores, and dried leaves whispered their warnings of the oncoming winter. Soon, I would not feel cold nor heat nor warmth: only righteousness.

    The heavy wooden doors of the abandoned church eased open. I noticed the candles were lit honoring those lost. Placing my fist over my chest, I bowed to the flames.

    May you rest in peace, I thought. Someday, you will be free.

    What the church had failed to tell humanity was that this was hell: it was our coven’s duty to free them from its chains.

    I wasn’t a vampire. I wasn’t a witch. I did not practice Satanism.

    I purified the sacrilegious and fought to free the lost.

    I was one of the Selected, one of those picked to engage in war against those who claimed they were holy. Not all who preached holiness were liars. But there were many who lied to their followers, feeding off their souls to acquire immortality. I would fight for paradise, so long absent and so easily forgotten.

    I exited through the back of the church, moving towards the cemetery behind. In a daze, I knocked three times on the angel’s pedestal, and he split in two, revealing a spiraling staircase to our sanctuary. I descended amid cobwebs and torchlight.

    Welcome, Daughter. I heard the voices chanting. Your journey begins tonight.

    Reaching the bottom, I noticed the alter: adorned with fruits, cheeses, and wine.

    I’m ready, Sisters. I answered silently.

    Then swear your loyalty to our cause.

    I whispered my allegiance to the coven and to the Spirit and to humanity, promising I would spend my life fighting to regain entrance to heaven.

    The hooded figure in the middle approached me, yielding a blazing blue blade. She lifted the dagger to the ceiling, roots and earth observing:

    “We welcome Celeste to the Circle, she has sworn her allegiance to her coven, and she will fight to recover Eden!” He voice made the dirt above us shiver.

    The priestess traced a cross into my forearm; it burned for only seconds and faded.

    From this moment on, my destiny was set: I would free the imprisoned.

    Challenge Accepted
    497 Words