Monday, August 25, 2014


Yet another week has passed before I realized it. I think time is speeding up... Someone should check on that. While they're checking, you have a story to write (which still has to be in before midnight Tuesday night/Wednesday morning even if time IS moving faster....). So go read the prompt and get your brains working!

If you haven't read the full version of the rules, go here. Otherwise, here's the short version:

1. Start with the given first sentence.
2. Up to 500 words
3. Keep it clean (nothing rated R or above)
4. Optional Special Challenge
5. Stories submitted must be your own work, using characters and worlds that you have created. Sorry, no fanfiction.
6. Include: Twitter/email, word count, Special Challenge accepted
7. The challenge is open for 24 hours on Tuesday EST

Oh, and feel free to change pronounspunctuationtense, 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 Jamie Hershberger. Also known as @JamieRHersh. Read her winning tale from last week here! Check out her blog here. Jamie re-discovered her love of writing through participation in 2012's National Novel Writing Month. She has participated (and won) the contest every year, since. She is currently seeking representation for her NA novel, "It Takes Moxie", has a sequel to it in revision.  Jamie's non-writing activities include homeschooling her three adorable children and volunteering as a Ministry Expansion Lead for American Heritage Girls.

 Your first sentence for FINISH THAT THOUGHT #2-8 is:

I'm sorry, [sir], but I believe that's [my] [suitcase].

 Your SPECIAL CHALLENGE from the judge is:

Include a secret recipe.



  1. The Suitcase

    453 words
    special challenge accepted

    “I’m sorry Madam but I believe that’s my suitcase”

    I looked up from my book into the bluest pair of eyes I’ve seen for years, the Paul Newman kind. I felt myself bristling, madam indeed! reminded me of my mother. How old did he think I was?

    “Think you’ve taken the wrong one from the carousal”

    He stood there holding on to my battered old portmanteau. It had stickers flanking both sides showing all the cities and places I’d passed through. His suitcase was new and light, one of those that a tank could roll right over and your possessions would still be un-creased and unharmed. It was about time I updated mine. His suitcase was lodged firmly between my knees. You could never be too safe with thieves and pickpockets about. I was using it as a seat whilst I waited for Grandma Joyce. Now she was a Madam.

    He could see I wasn’t going to give it up without a fight. He looked around, uncertainty flowing across his face. He twisted the lock on my battered old case and I was tempted to flip it open so he could see all my life laid out on the floor, a bit like Pandora’s Box only worse. No one wants to see someone else’s dirty washing. He’d see my life with Gerald, then Lenny and finally with Steve. Grandma Joyce clicking her teeth together would exclaim

    “Penelope, why do you have to keep having these husbands? Surely now after three you’ll realise you’re a bad picker.”

    Gerald had green, Lenny had brown and Steve had grey. Maybe this pair of blue eyes would suit me better.

    I threw a coquettish smile across my face and graciously stood up.

    “I’m so sorry”

    As he leant over to take the suitcase I split a tiny drop of Grandma Joyce’s secret recipe on to his hand. It smelt of blueberries and Arkansas whisky. Not many could resist that aroma. I on the other hand liked the smell of a man fresh from his shower.

    With both of our suitcases on a trolley and one of his arms tucked around my waist he guided me to the coffee booth. His name was Paul and he was from some place in England. He had a wife and two lovely children. I’d seen the photos.

    I hadn’t felt this youthful in years. Grandma Joyce came walking towards us. She always looked a bit eccentric with her flowing cape, a pointy hat trying to keep her long grey hair under control. Paul looked surprised but I could see he had good manners and wouldn’t comment. I’d already searched his heart and brain.

    “What big blues eyes you have, young man”

  2. Title: A recipe for (a) disaster

    “I’m sorry, buddy, but I believe that’s my daughter. I’m her father… just remember that,” I shouted at him, my fist waving inches from his marriage-wrecking face.

    I’d replayed this scene, trying to find better ways I should have dealt with our last moments before the Collapse.

    This broke nights otherwise filled with insomnia, regret and sounds of violence. My days filled with road, made of shattered glass; that stretched like a glistening deadly carpet to a vanishing point I could not see and might not reach. In the verges, skeletal metal corpses loitered like road-kill. Ash caked me in the worst of humanity.

    Memories tend to magnify missed details from the past. Like her delicate porcelain skin moistened by tears. Like the glacial North Sea winds, that chilled her. My fatherly embrace should have warmed her and my overcoat protected her. I projected my inadequacies and failures onto a man, undeserving, when I should have focused on her alone.

    Every weekend I’d pick her up from the city, it was our time. Since she was tiny, Bethany always had a vivid imagination. We worked on secret recipes for life, for success, even for disaster. Just fun…

    “So, Beth, what’s ingredient one for recipe for a disaster?”

    “Water, obviously.”

    “Good girl. Where do you get the water from?”

    “The tap?”

    “No. The water might be poisonous.”

    She laughed. “Yes, you’re right daddy. Maybe puddles?”

    “They’d be dirty. A good survivor would look underground, but not go far into tunnels, as there might be monsters there. Ingredient two?”

    “That’s easy. You need to hide from the monsters.”

    I laughed this time. “Yes, of course. Hide in places where they don’t look. They’ll always check cupboards and under the bed.”

    We talked until we were exhausted by carefree laughter.

    On my three-week journey to London, I’d came to realise my hopes of finding her were a stalking ghost that would not rest. I relied on her hiding in the places we talked about in jest. I sought signs of life and hoped she be near enough to steal from others, but far enough away not to be discovered.

    I saw a group of men, rummaging through a building.

    “That little cow is in here somewhere,” one growled.

    “Hands off - she’s mine,” another shouted, staking claims on his object, my daughter.

    I wanted to kill them, but I knew this was a battle I couldn’t win.

    “Leave this place!” I yelled to them.

    “You’re having a laugh, old man,” the leader said, but then I saw him look at me more closely. The fissure scars of battles and missing teeth, nuclear embers that burn in the eyes of a father that will die to protect his child. He slithered away and the others followed.

    I found her an hour later; hiding in the places we talked about. She was ragged, skinny and cold. I picked her up, embraced her warmly, and wrapped my overcoat tightly around her.

    By Mark A. King
    494 words
    Special Challenge : Yes - always

  3. Waterloo Sunset

    “I’m sorry , sir, but I believe that’s my suitcase.”

    The old girl got right up in my grill, waving a finger that was just begging to be snapped off and shoved back up her nosey parker nose. I stopped, cast a quick glance around the concourse to make sure no-one else was watching, then shook my head.

    “Sorry love, it’s mine now. Do one.”

    She started to protest, prodding my chest with that same boney finger, then sloughed her skin to reveal the screaming skull beneath. I closed my eyes for a moment, cleared my head, then stepped in close, between the bat and the CCTV cameras.

    “I say!”

    But she didn’t. Not anymore. I sat her down in the waiting area, arranged her to look like she’d just fallen asleep, her thin skin turning to flaking alabaster, the years drifting down to bury her wrinkled-stocking feet. I took a deep breath and headed for the door, her case in my hand, just another tourist back from his jollies.

    The taxi outside was a blazing riot of multicoloured butterflies, pinned to the hide of a restless buffalo. I knew that I didn’t have much longer, but I slipped in through the left flank, pulled a ragged intestine across my lap as a makeshift seatbelt, then told the hydra-headed platypus in the front seat where to take me. It clicked mechanically and steered out into the treacle traffic, a pulsing bhangra beat throbbing from its segmented thorax.

    I sat back in the softly sighing seat, sinking into the plush pink leather, thinking of my third year French teacher and the delicious delta formed between her vee necked sweater and the pearls she wore at her throat.

    Slipping deeper, forgetting my mission, I fell through geologic strata of loves and lusts, crimson and clover, until the chittering stopped and the creature in the front seat crashed his chariot into the side of the bridge.

    He fell through the windscreen in slow motion, his face a hailstorm of fragmentary, blood red diamonds. I saw the price sticker on the bottom of his left shoe and smiled. Upside down, it was 66.6.

    I crawled from the cab, breathed deeply of the tainted air, watching the red beetles of the fire brigade scuttle towards the poppy flower flames, the psychedelic smoke rising over London, to seed the clouds with dreams and nightmares. I still held the woman’s suitcase, but I no longer knew why; to replace my own, perhaps, lost in the crash?

    The airport blossomed into the sky, the heat stroking my face even from the bridge. I tasted the wind, the special recipe in the pressurised canisters drifting downwind, towards Parliament and the seat of power, slipping minds loose from their moorings, to drift upstream like the ancient mariners, plying the Thames for trade.

    I took the suitcase to the edge of the parapet, watched it tumble towards the oil slicked waters, reflecting the burning sky, to sink beneath ancient waters.


    500 words dead
    Special Challenge? Oh yes....

  4. “I'm sorry, sir, but I believe that's your briefcase.” I looked up from my phone to see a blur of grey carrying what, indeed, was my briefcase. Taking a moment to consider what the thief had with them, I shrugged and went back to playing 2048.

    “But sir, aren’t you worried? That man stole your stuff!” The valet was just trying to be helpful, I knew, and really, most people would have been panicking right about now, of course. But I wasn’t most people, because I knew something they didn’t. I pushed the button to turn off the screen on my phone and motioned for the man – Rick, his name tag read – to sit down next to me.

    “The truth is, Rick, there’s nothing in that briefcase.”

    “But…why would you be carrying an empty briefcase?” Rick was a young man, and despite my knowledge that he’d never live to be as old as I was, I still felt the compulsion to pass on wisdom to the next generation.

    “Some men might say habit. You get used to carrying something like that for as many years as I have, it’s hard to put down. But that’s not me – I hated that damned thing, filled with folders and files and pens and business cards. The detritus of a life on the road.” I paused, looking out over the lobby. Lainie would have loved this hotel, had this been one of the trips she came on with me. There were too few of those, to be sure, what with the kids and all. My eyes misted over a bit, and I wiped them with the back of my hand.

    “No, Rick, it wasn’t habit.” My voice had gotten rough, and time was short. “The briefcase was empty because I failed. I had a job, and I didn’t do it, and so I didn’t get to pick up what was coming to me.”

    “Was…was it important?” Rick’s voice cracked. Maybe he was even younger than I’d originally thought – a college kid on a summer job. Aw, hell.

    “You could say that.”

    “But why did that man steal it? I mean, if nothing was in there. Did he know that?”

    “If that was who I think it was, no. He assumed that I’d done my job, because I always had before. He’ll get to his safe place, open it up, and find out the truth. Maybe. Maybe not.” I pushed the button and checked the time on my phone. There might be just enough time for a miracle.

    “Do you need to be somewhere, Rick? I mean, other than working?”

    “No. Not today. My mom will be working late herself.”

    “Well, if you’re up to it, what do you say to heading over to your boss and asking for the rest of the day off? I’ve got a hankering for some lobster, and I hate eating alone. And I can tell you what was supposed to be in that briefcase, if you’re up to it.”

    500 words
    No special challenge

  5. Agent Brown and Chef Bubba’s First Encounter

    “I’m sorry, sir, I believe that’s my suitcase.”

    “I know, sir. I am a Federal Customs Agent. Follow me.” As the man spoke he flashed an ID quicker than anyone would have been able to read.

    “I’m in a hurry.” The words were spoken with frustration, and he made no move to follow.

    “Sir, you will be coming with me. If you prefer I could wrestle you to the ground, handcuff you, and forcibly drag you to the back.”

    Shakily, the man replied, “Lead the way.”

    The agent led the man to a back room. It had a mirror across one wall and recording devices in the corners. The agent set the suitcase down on the table and ordered the man to sit down in the only chair.

    “You will open this bag and carefully take the items out, one at a time. As you do this we will be watching from the next room, behind bullet proof glass.” With no more ceremony than that the agent turned and left.

    The man attempted to say, “I don’t understand.” The door locked putting a firm period where the man had hoped to put a question mark.

    He went back to the table and stared at his suitcase. A moment later, a loud voice spoke through the speakers. “Begin sir! Unpack your suitcase.”

    Obediently he zipped open the top, but he had to take a heavy breath to muster the courage to lift the top. When he did. It clanked as metal plate shifted on metal plate. Behind the mirrored glass the collection of watching agents ducked for cover.

    The man with the suitcase stood stalwartly staring into it. Then, as instructed, he began pulling one item after another out of the suitcase and stacking them on the table. There were skillets, spatulas, cookie sheets and more.

    The agents in the room next door, were no longer ducking. Instead they were crowding to the window. The door to their observation room opened and several men nervously excused themselves.

    “Congratulations Agent Brown. You have helped keep the world safe from chefs.”

    “Sir, This man is smuggling something into the country. I can sense it. He may not have a suitcase full of weapons as the metal detector indicated, but look at his demeanor. I would stake my reputation on it. He is hiding something.”

    “Carry on then, Agent Brown. But make no mistake, your reputation is on the line.”

    A moment later he had the man in a chair as he went through the suitcase looking for what he was hiding. The agent could tell when he got closer because the man’s nerves were trampling his every attempt at a poker face.

    Within minutes he found a piece of paper. He watched the man melt into tears and hysterics. From this reaction he knew the he had it. He delivered it his boss, who read aloud Chef Bubba’s secret recipe for pulled pork.

    490 words

    1. Yes to special challenge. Always forget to mention that.

  6. “Sorry, sir, but I believe that’s my sarcophagus.”

    The stone funereal box is on end, held upright strapped to a heavy duty dolly. A few of the gems once laid in the ornamental front have fallen off during the move, but there’s no sleep to be lost over them.
    Hands on hips, I tap my foot as the man stares at me blank faced. Ignoring the wrappings that have come loose, I tap more insistently.
    There are things about being one of the undead that normal folks just aren’t tuned into. Like keeping all my parts together while going about life.

    Last week I decided to move and had my belongings shipped to my new abode. Dumb shit currently standing with his mouth open like a lizard waiting for a fly, wasn’t one of the men hired to do the heavy lifting. In fact, I’d never seen him before this moment and can’t fathom a reason for him to be in my apartment trying to cart off my personal property. I don’t have much that belongs to me as it is.

    “It belongs in the corner.” I motioned with my nearly severed arm to the furthest most recess of the room. “If you wouldn’t mind.”

    “But you’re a…a…” He stumbles over his words and then my sarcophagus on his rush for the door.

    “Don’t you want your dolly?” I ask grabbing him.

    He doesn’t stop immediately. It’s harder than you’d think to keep it together when you’re a 1000 years old mummy. There’s the wrappings that tend to loosen, and the essential oils meant to keep me from growing a stench, but even with all those precautions, frequently I fall to pieces. So he goes to run with my arm still attached to his and the swear, “shit”, slips out before I can stop it. Hell, what would you do? Several strips of wrapping hang off, flapping in the breeze from the ceiling fan. Mouthbreather looks from the arm to me and back before proffering the limb his face whiter than the frost on a cold winter’s morn.

    He retches, covers his mouth, and rushes into a bathroom I have no use for.

    “I’m really sorry. I just—“ he says once he’s emptied his bowels and wiped his face with the back of his hand. “Want I should help you put it back on?”

    The exposed end of my shoulder is covered in crawling maggots and he turns a few shades of green before passing out and crumpling to the floor. I sigh. I hadn’t planned on being exposed for what I am so soon upon arrival. I retrieve my arm and make a temporary connection using an industrial sized stapler I packed for just such occasions; I drag the dead man, I assume a heart attack, into the kitchen. I make mincemeat of his flesh, and contemplate what to serve with him for dinner, before turning on the Yankees playing in the World Series.

    1. @fetterslopez
      496 words
      sorry about the spacing.

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