Monday, January 27, 2014


Welcome back! I've been in a crazy-editing zone recently, so I haven't been posting much else on here. I'm hopeful that by the time this goes live I will have finished my first edit pass of the novel!!! I already know it needs another full edit before I pass it along to my first beta readers, but I'm excited about where it's going and how it's getting better. :) Just a quick update before you all wow me with your stories this week. So get to it!

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 Craig Anderson also known as @TodaysChapter. Check out his blog here. Read his winning tale from last week here!

 Your first sentence for FINISH THAT THOUGHT #30 is:

The squirrel landed with a thud.

 Your SPECIAL CHALLENGE from the judge is:

Incorporate karma in the story.



  1. The squirrel landed with a thud. Little Trevor flinched when it did. He never imagined he could do it. The feat had seemed impossible. But as he watched the wind pass through the hairs on the squirrel’s tail it settled in that he had actually done it.
    What had his dad said about his favorite birthday present? That he should only pump it five times? That hadn’t been enough in Trevor’s eyes. Why, he had just turned six. Clearly the gun needed at least that many. But as he pumped the gun’s lever, each pump harder than the last, six didn’t seem like enough either.
    “Darrell.” Trevor stared up at his brother. “Can you help me with this?” He held out his gun like an offering hoping that just this once his brother would help him without inflicting some type of torture beforehand.
    Darrell didn’t look away from his computer. “What’s wrong with it?”
    “I need help pumping my gun.” After the sixth pump, his arms could no longer get the lever to close.
    Darrell looked then and sighed before grabbing the gun from Trevor’s chubby hands.
    Trevor counted as Darrell pumped the gun. Click. One. Click. Two. Darrell stopped at six.
    “Here ya go twerp,” he said. “Don’t shoot it in the house.”
    “I’m not stupid,” Trevor said. He had planned to say thank you but changed his mind.
    Twelve times the gun had been pumped. Trevor didn’t think it would do very much to anything. That wasn’t very many pumps.
    When Trevor spotted the fluffy grey squirrel way up in the giant maple tree behind the house, he doubted his gun could shoot that high. But he decided to give it a try anyway. He raised the gun to his shoulder like his dad had taught him and clamped his left eye shut. It took some time for Trevor to line the orange dot between the black ones but the squirrel had been patient and didn’t move while Trevor took aim. Once the squirrel was in his sights Trevor pulled the trigger.
    And there laid the squirrel.
    Was it dead? Trevor didn’t know. He stood there and waited. Watching the squirrel.
    Trevor looked at the black lab who had sauntered up to his side. “I think I killed it Barley.” He kept his voice down incase anyone was listening. “What should I do with it? I’ll get in trouble if I leave it here to be found. Can you bury squirrels?”
    A silence settled between them as the stared at the ball of grey fluff. A minute later Barley walked up to the squirrel, sniffed it, and then gently put it in his mouth. Trevor watched as Barley headed for the woods tail wagging behind him.
    He never knew what became of the squirrel but that day under the giant maple tree he vowed to never pump his gun twelve times again.

    By: Caitlin
    Twitter: @RudysGirl76
    Word Count: 487

  2. The Magic Show

    The squirrel landed with a thud. Marina glared at her magic wand in disgust. The squirrel ought to have pirouetted three times and then floated lightly to the ground before performing a deep curtsey. The curtsey was crucial: the Queen would be watching, and it wouldn’t do for an untried fairy’s first demonstration to offend her potential new boss. But this squirrel had done none of those things. It had given an unearthly little shriek and plummeted off its branch to the ground.

    Marina gritted her teeth and motioned for the next squirrel to get into place on the branch. Whispering the spell’s words carefully, she flicked the wand in the squirrel’s direction, winding a trail of pretty golden sparks through the air. This squirrel wobbled dizzily and then—thud.

    It took seventeen attempts to eke out even one pathetic pirouette, and another ten to manage a second. By the time Marina finally managed to produce a pirouetting squirrel that didn’t careen like an overripe tomato to the ground, a small mountain of moaning squirrels lay at her feet.

    “It’s all for the cause,” she said airily, as though the tiny, sniffling squirrels were deeply invested in her possible appointment to the royal court. “Now—next one. Move it!”

    That night Marina performed at her absolute finest. She watched the Queen out of the corner of one eye—was that a yawn? Marina strutted and glowed with her best magic, while squirrels danced magnificent arabesques and pas de deux above their heads. The Queen leaned to her left and chatted with a knight. Meanwhile, the squirrels spun! They leapt! Boredom etched the Queen’s face. Was she about to raise a hand in dismissal?

    In desperation Marina climbed to the narrow platform herself, flinging sparks of magic everywhere. Eight squirrels stood in trembling perfection on either side of her. She drew a deep breath and whispered the spell one last time. Perfection!!! One by one each squirrel turned three perfect, graceful pirouettes before soaring in glorious arcs to the marble floor. And yes! The Queen saw the whole thing, with curiosity now sparkling in her eyes!

    Now for the finish, and the job would be hers!

    Marina smirked triumphantly at the squirrels below her, pirouetted three times, and stepped off the platform.

    Hey—why was the Queen leaving?

    Did this mean she got the job?

    Was it true about the bottomless spending account and access to the Queen’s private closet?

    Would her unforgettable show be the talk of the kingdom, including among all those stupid pixies and gnomes she’d had to step on to get this far?

    Wait—where was her wand?

    No, really. Wait. Why was one of those flea-infested, rat-faced squirrels grinning nastily back at her?

    Marina landed with a thud.

    462 words
    Judge's challenge: yeah, baby

  3. Walking to work

    The squirrel landed with a thud, right in front of me. My head hurts too. Must have been when I hit the pavement. I hear my heart beating in my ears. Its loud, it’s unsettling. Am I decent? Are my knickers showing? ‘Get a grip Penny’ I chivvy myself. ‘Remember that time you fell over in the snow and all that was hurt was your pride’.

    Whatever is covering me, feels warm and duvet-like. Like someone has thrown a blanket over me. Hope this warmth isn’t blood! I don’t like blood or any other body fluid. Should I be scared? I can’t see. ‘Open your eyes’ I command myself. My eyelids feel heavy stuck with super glue. I hear a moan. I’m sure it isn’t one of mine. It sounds deeper, manly.

    I sit up and rub the stuff from my eyes. I can see its blue fluffy bits. The moaning continues. It lingers in the air. I ignore it.

    I remember walking to work. I was nearly there. The weather was unusual for this time of year, warm and sunny. The air felt heavy. I had to wear a jacket to conceal my uniform. The new infection control policy. That was it; I think I must have fainted with the heat!

    It’s eerily silent. I can’t hear the hum of the traffic of the main road I’ve just crossed. I’m deaf. No, I can hear the moaning.

    I wish the moaning would stop, it’s very distracting. I can’t think. I look in the direction where it’s coming from and see a man. The one I had been following up the road. I remember he walked with a swagger and he whistled tunelessly. I don’t like whistlers. It’s a nervous habit. It grates on me. I remember he was wearing a short sleeve T shirt with the logo of a heavy metal band on the back. One I remember from years ago. His arms covered in tattoos. Blue concrete like slabs cover him now. He looks crushed. Maybe I should get up and help him but I don’t feel a pressing need. I feel like I’m floating on a cloud, a weird feeling. Last time I felt like this was when I was doped up to the eyes giving birth.

    I look behind me. See blue feathery down all over the road. It looks like the sea surrounding Rhodes, a glorious deep blue colour. Lying back on the pavement I look up. I look up again. I squeeze my eyes tightly then look again. I close one eye then the other and look again. I’m puzzled. Maybe my morning cup of coffee was spiked? Above me is a grey void. I squint. I peer. Whichever way I look the sky is missing. It’s karma.

    464 words
    Judge challenge accepted

  4. What Goes Around

    The squirrel landed with a thud. It slid off Mariann's head, and onto the picnic table in front of her. Regaining its feet, the squirrel shook itself, a dazed look on its face. Mariann looked down at it, eyes watering at the pain.

    "Do I know you?" Mariann asked, rubbing her head.

    At her voice, the fluffy-tailed critter froze.

    Mariann shrugged. "I guess not."

    It was so hard to tell, now-a-days, what was coincidence, and what wasn't. In fact, since starting at Karma Inc., she'd began to doubt that there was such thing as coincidence. It seemed like every act was a comeuppance for someone - for past actions done.

    And that was when she was just filing and typing in reports. Now that she was a field agent... she shook her head, the things she was asked to oversee, who could blame her doubt?

    Like the nail in the road that caused the flat tire in Peggy Johnson's shiny new Beemer, leaving her stranded on the roadside during the biggest interview opportunity of her life. Compounded interest on that one - two previous agents had failed to get the job done. A single nail, falling free of a contractor's truck, and the scales were even again for the mailbox she'd knocked over after that party two Christmas's back.

    Or ten-year-old Jaime who'd helped his neighbor take in the groceries, despite his mom's warning about entering a strange home. The sixty bucks he found in a parking lot the next week was his cosmic reward, and a small slice of the punishment for a shady lawyer who'd been inflating his hours to bilk clients for money.

    When she'd first seen the want ad, Mariann thought it was a joke. "Yeah, the cosmos has finally bought in to the 21st century."

    But it had, and the job proved it. Since her first week, Mariann had done what she could to keep a well balanced life. Of course, she wasn't allowed to see her own tally - no one was, and trying to see it was an offense that rendered ... special attention of another field agent. Everyone tried at least once, and that was the thing. Mariann's was a halfhearted effort that resulted in a speeding ticket on the way home.

    Message received.

    And there was no telling what the next life would bring, if you left the world while unbalanced. Up and down were relative in the animal kingdom - it all depended on your perspective.

    The squirrel looked at her, something familiar about its suspicious glare.


    The squirrel flattened to the table with a startled chittering. Mariann sighed, and tore her sandwich in half. She set part of it in front of the still rattled rodent.

    Her mentor had left the company in a flurry of mystery and whispers. Mariann had taken his upscale office chair when it was clear he wasn't coming back. Taking another bite of her lunch, she hoped everything was now square.

    497 words
    Judge challenge: accepted

  5. Bad Intentions

    The squirrel landed with a thud, shaking the table, spilling watered down beer.

    “Recognize that?”

    Mikey stared at the pink stuffed toy, wrapped in a plastic evidence bag, synapses misfiring as he tried to understand its sudden appearance. Where had he seen it last? On Keisha’s bed? In her arms?

    “Who -?“

    I flashed my badge and he froze. The men flanking him began to rise, but the bar was full of shadows, and the shadows were full of my own guys. They waved their guns and cleared the room, until we were the only ones left. I sat down and took a sip of someone’s abandoned beer.

    “Can you do that on duty?”

    I looked at him over the rim of the glass.

    “No, but you wont be filing a complaint.”

    I took another drink, staring at him until he looked away.

    “Still haven’t answered the question Mikey. Recognize it?”

    He reached out, flicked the plastic bag, shrugged.

    “I guess. Got one like it for my kid.”

    ”Remember when?”

    “No. Didn’t realise I needed a license for a stuffed toy.”

    “Let me refresh your memory then.”

    I held up my phone, began to swipe across photos of him outside the prison, in the back of the cab, leaving the bar with a couple of skanks.

    “Why the hell you watching me man? I got my rights. I did my bit.”

    He was getting angry, but it was a mask, hiding his fear.

    “You did, and all you had to do was go home. But you didn’t, did you?”

    He turned pale as I reached the subway photos. First he’s leaning drunkenly against the barrier, counting his change, then he’s hopping the gate. At the edge of the screen, ahead of him, there’s a girl of maybe nine or ten, clutching the squirrel. I swipe to the next picture, the two of them on the platform, the girl shouting at him as he grabs the toy, pushing her towards the platform edge. It’s a bad photo, faces bleached by the strip lights, blurred by anger.

    “That ain’t me man. You can’t prove nothing.”

    “Smart lawyer could get you off, maybe. Not the point though. You won’t make it to trial.”

    “What’s that mean?”

    “You’re not too smart, are you Mikey? Didn’t you wonder why a kid would be riding alone at night? Why she fought so much, or why the thing’s so heavy.”

    “Figured it was one of them beanie butts.”

    “Not quite. You been getting a lot of headaches recently? Keisha and Mari too? Seen all those TV warnings about dirty bombs?”

    “Oh Jesus. I just wanted to bring Keisha something.”

    “Too late for that. You did a bad thing Mikey. You shoulda gone home, but you killed that girl, and you brought something terrible into your life.”

    “I stopped the bomb though.”

    “Not through choice. Guess that’s just how it goes. Come on.”

    “Can I at least finish my beer?”

    I checked my watch.

    “Better make it quick.”

    500 words
    Judge challenge accepted

  6. Revival
    500 words

    The squirrel landed with a thud. Then instinctively squatted low and scanned the room to see if anyone had heard him. All around the room, he saw the backs of heads. But none of them turned around to check on the noise. Not only were they inattentive, many were nodding off to sleep.

    Relieved he slipped silently behind a potted plant. He wanted a clear path to the front of the room. He had noticed the night before the decorations had been changed. The flower pots were removed for something that seemed more fall like. So some bright colored leaves, a pumpkin and a few other squash. But when the decorator sat back to look she felt something was missing.

    Finally she went out and bought a big bag of mixed nuts. These too were spread around the table. What she didn’t know was the squirrel was watching. And the sight of all those exotic varieties of nuts began working on his mind. He had spent the night thinking of nothing else. He rose over and over again through the night to see if they were still there.

    They always were, there behind locked doors. He didn’t sleep. He couldn’t think. He knew his purpose in life had somehow changed. He had to get those nuts. But he didn’t know how. Then early the next morning he saw someone else approach the door. It was a solitary man in a suit. He unlocked it and then, praise God, he braced the door open.

    For the next hour the squirrel had watched for a chance to sneak inside, but to his dismay a steady stream of people had entered the building and before they quit more than half the chairs were full. He watched them and suddenly he realized what it all meant. They too were there to worship the nuts. They understood the wonder of that display.

    The stream of people entering had stopped and the squirrel had snuck into the back, but it was not enough. He had to see them. Touch them. Taste them. He needed a plan. He had to get up there.

    Studying the front of the room he noticed for the first time a man up there talking. Waving his arms. Pounding on the wooden furnishing. He must be speaking of the glory of those nuts. He couldn’t understand what he was saying but what else could it be?

    It was then a plan came to him. He noticed that under the rows of chairs was ample room to move. Since the rows were so close together, he might pass through undetected. That is as long as he didn’t accidentally bump into one of the hundreds of feet dangling off those many chairs.

    The first seven rows went by without a hitch. But then he glanced back and carelessly let his tail brush across an old woman’s leg. She jumped up, off the ground and began shouting something. So started the revival at Community Church.

  7. Karma Ghosts

    The squirrel landed with a thud on the table and crashed onto the ground while breaking it but no one noticed.

    I stuck my hands closer to the window to take a clear glance of what is happening inside. That ancient large room looked like a scene from a movie.

    At one corner, a tall woman wearing a long gown was serving bowls of soup to her starving children. On the other corner some girls were sitting around chit chatting with each other. At the third corner there were five big men sitting on round stools around a table playing cards and laughing out loud. And in the fourth one, some old men and women were gathered, some were talking and some were staring silently at the ceiling. Every person there was wearing ancient, out of fashion clothes. The squirrel was dancing around in the room.

    I was amazed to see all that. After all, I was a tourist who happened to stumble upon this place without any plans. I was a 'not-so-good' husband of my beloved wife. I couldn't attend stupid family dinners and wedding parties with her, like she wanted. I was a tourist by nature and she knew that when we got married. I couldn't even imagine living without her but fulfilling her demands was getting harder.

    I remember, when I left home she was making my favorite macaroni and cheese and we had to attend her friend's wedding that day. When I announced that I was going out for some days, her face turned blue but I didn't care, I never cared about her feelings. 'Taking-her-for-granted" was my thing.

    A heavy feeling jumbled up in my heart, wrapping up my body into a mist of guilt. It initialized a thought in my mind, the thought of going back. And that mysterious room seemed like a golden chance that time. My wife was a big time fan of ancient historic movies and I knew that she'd love this place.

    How hard it was to cool down her anger is another story but I managed to bring her there. She peeked through the window and I could see her eyes giggling along with her face.

    "Let's go inside and meet them" She said and I followed.

    The door opened with sharp squeak. She smiled and pushed me inside.

    I could hardly stand on my feet and my heart stopped beating when my vision became clear. My voice was stuck in my throat.

    There were no people, the room was empty and everything laying there was covered in dust.

    She took some time to amuse herself and then spoke out "I heard about this place long time ago. When you came back and told me about it, I was excited to teach you a lesson ! "

    "But what is this place ?" My voice quivered.

    "A house of ghosts from the past".

    481 words.
    Judge Challenge : Accepted