Monday, July 6, 2015


CELEBRATE GOOD TIMES, C'MON!!! It's year three for Finish That Thought!!!!! :) This has been a wild and crazy two years, and I'm glad you all still want to come and play. If you're new here or if you've been around since the beginning, welcome. Thanks for stopping by. Go check out the prompts and get writing!

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 Sheba AJ. Read her tale from last week here! Sheba is a sometimes writer, whenever she gets a bright idea or two about life, music, politics, science, or self improvement. She's been known to pour out her indignation on Facebook, Twitter (@ShebaAJ) and her blog ( Hat tip = Quote science at her to convince her.

 Your first sentence for FINISH THAT THOUGHT #3-1 is:

Stumbling out of the [pub/concert/etc], [s]he noticed blearily that [s]he was missing [at least one shoe/her(his) favorite hat/an arm etc].

 Your SPECIAL CHALLENGE from the judge is:

Include any of the following words: toad, The Sopranos, fish tank, salt, supernatural. Bonus points if you manage to use 'em all! :)



  1. Gone

    Stumbling out of the pub, he blearily noticed that he was missing her ring. He patted his pockets frantically. In the distance, a silent thunderstorm approached.
    “Oh God, where is it?” Not feeling it in his pockets, nor seeing it on the brick ground, he turned and went back into The Toadstool. It was nearly empty; most everyone had gone home. The dim lighting made it harder to find. After a long while, he found it: a gold ring holding a white stone. Sighing, he walked over and sat down at the bar. The bartender looked over disgruntled, as he cleaned up. Eventually, he walked over and broke the dead silence that had risen in the pub.
    “Listen pal, you can’t sleep here tonight.” The man didn’t seem to hear him, for he did not look up from the ring that lay in his palm. Heaving a frustrated sigh, the bartender turned to walk away, but the man spoke up.
    “I loved her you know… I gave her my heart; she took it saying it was cute. I thought we would last. I thought she was content.”
    “You’ve been in and out of here for the past week and haven’t said one word lit now; why speak now?” The man wasn’t sure why, so he didn’t answer. Perhaps, it was because the pressure that had build up in his head become too much.
    “What happened?” the bartender asks. His voice had become soft.
    “I wish I knew… perhaps, I was selfish; I wanted her for my own. I wanted for us to live somewhere alone together. I wanted to escape this cold world, but she wanted to see it, so she left with a man who could give her that; She wanted the world, but I couldn’t give her that just my hand to take. She tore my heart in two the day I went to my knee to give her this ring. I didn’t think she’d kept it.”
    “So, she left ya for another? That’s tough. But, I’ll tell ya; it has been a week, and you have to get over it sometime. The sooner you leave these things it in the past the better.” It was raining now; the storm had come.
    “That was three years ago, but I never stopped loving her. Maybe, if I had been better, things would be different.” The bartender made a face.
    “Hell man, it’s not healthy to hold on to these things. Why are you here?” The man turned the ring in his fingers.
    “I found it on her… I didn’t think she had kept it... I think she may have been coming back.” The man’s voice breaks and tears stream.

    She sees him across the street, but he doesn’t see her. She couldn’t believe he was still here. Relief clouded her mind. Tears of joy blurred her vision. She waves her ringed hand, as she steps out onto the street. In that perfect moment, she was gone with the lights.

    1. This is my first time participating. My email is and word count is 500.

  2. Finally
    Word Count 300
    Special Challenge Accepted

    Stumbling out of the library, he noticed blearily that he was missing a chunk of his hair. It probably had to do with the woman chasing him and the grip she now had around blonde curls. He was bleeding too, a trickle from the top of his head down to his chin.

    The marble column was cold under his hand. He grabbed it and tried to clear his vision.

    “Get back here!” The woman was hell-bent on getting his attention. He didn’t even know her name. He had been sitting in the library, studying for his finals. One minute he was alone and the next he had the woman’s thighs on either side of his legs, straddling him – and not in the good way.

    “You’re blood!” She screamed as she ran by the circulation desk. “I need it for my spell. I already have the hair!”

    He looked out over the field in front of the library, students sitting on blankets, some threw around a Frisbee. No one noticed the screaming from the library or the sophomore clutching one hand to the marble column and the other to his head.

    The door behind him opened and he tensed. He knew it was the woman.

    “I have the salt and your hair; now give me your blood.”

    “Is this an episode of Supernatural?” He asked through his daze. The woman replied by pressing a vial to the trail of blood.

    When she stepped back he could see the lines of age on her forehead, stray white strands falling from her bun. She smiled toothily. “Your blonde hair for my new form, I thank you.”

    Then she disappeared, “poof!” right from the spot. He slid down the column, face falling into his hands and wondered if finals had finally turned him insane.

  3. Field Trip

    Stumbling out of the villa, he noticed blearily that he was missing his favorite boot knife. Now, that was a damned shame. It was one of a matched pair…a gift from a blade smith of exceptional skill. That said artisan was no longer among the living made it all the more irreplaceable. Taking cover in a small stand of trees, he centered himself and allowed the adrenaline overload to seep from his muscles.

    As one of the best covert operatives the Agency had ever fielded, he’d seen his fair share of blown missions. This one, however, was a cock-up of truly epic proportions. Either Intel Branch had supplied him the most inaccurate data in their history or someone…someone high up had hung him out to dry.

    At length, he decided there would be time later to figure out which of those two scenarios he had been dropped into. Now, he needed to devote his energy to clean-up and extraction. Well, if nothing else, it would present him an opportunity to retrieve his knife.

    Moving with almost supernatural stealth, he moved to a discreet distance and surveyed the house. As expected, all was dark and silent. Though much of the night was lost to him in the haze of combat, he was confident enough in his fieldcraft to know he wouldn’t have left the electricity intact any more than he would have left any opposition alive inside. That would simplify matters.

    Crossing the threshold, he nearly stumbled over the body at his feet. Kneeling, he checked the sentry, finding his missing knife lodged in the man’s sternum. Given the difficulty he experienced retrieving it explained why he had abandoned his prized blade in the first place. Sliding it into its sheath, he continued his search of the interior.

    Minutes later he’d identified nine downed men total. Given he had not so much as a scratch, he figured he hadn’t lost his edge in hand-to-hand to the specter of middle age. As surreptitiously as possible, Zed stacked the bodies like so much cordwood. Checking his chronometer, he placed a block of thermite amongst the corpses and set the timer.

    Returning to the upstairs office, he confirmed not only were there no blueprints in the wall safe…there was no friggin’ safe at all. Oh yeah, this was starting to smell really foul. He definitely needed to know who had sanctioned this op. His long-term retirement plans depended on that knowledge.

    Stopping at the kitchen to sever the gas lines to all three of the commercial-grade stoves, he ghosted back into the night and took cover in the same stand of trees. The flash of the thermite ignition was immediately followed by the house being blown to flinders.

    Nodding with satisfaction, Zed checked clean-up off of his mental to-do list and concentrated on finding the means to make it back to friendly terrain. Given the outcome of the night’s efforts, he couldn’t help but wonder just how friendly that terrain might prove to be.

    500 words

  4. Literature
    301 words
    Special challenge accepted

    "Stumbling out of the back alley, she noticed blearily that she was missing her hat. There was only emptiness and a cool breeze where it should be. She reached up to touch her naked head, and realized…her head was gone."

    "She couldn't be moving around if her head was gone," Anne said. She hadn't looked up from her newspaper once during the story and Belle was sick of her attitude.

    "She's supernatural now, don't you get it? The rest of the story has her wandering the Earth as a zombie, trying to replace her brain, but she can't eat brains because she has no teeth. It's a tragedy."

    "It certainly is," Anne said.

    "I know you're implying something, but I'm going to ignore it."

    "What are you reading, anyway?" Anne's eyes finally stopped scanning the sports, or weather, or whatever.

    Belle handed her the magazine.

    "Fish Tank weekly?"

    "The title of the magazine implies that we're all stuck in a prison like a fish tank, until we can break free and travel amongst the stars. It's mostly sci-fi," Belle said.

    "Why does a sci-fi magazine have a zombie story in it?"

    "In the dramatic conclusion, she gets turned into a toad by a star witch, and shot into outer space in a cannon."

    Anne shook her head in a disapproving fashion.

    "It's literature," Belle insisted.


    "They paid me fifty bucks!"

    Belle gave up. Years ago they'd played astronauts together, but Anne had apparently grown out of her imagination. She might always be too down-to-Earth for Belle's continuing adventures. Belle snatched the magazine from Anne's hands and turned her back.

    "Hey," Anne said. "I liked the part about the radioactive onions."


    "Yeah. You've got some real talent."

    Maybe they'd never play astronauts again, but they would always be sisters.

  5. Nice little bit of meta going on.

  6. Dates Gone Wrong
    (500 words)
    Special Challenge Accepted

    Stumbling out of the doorway, she noticed blearily that she was missing reruns of The Sopranos. Mandy hadn’t meant to be out that late, but chocked it up to kissing another toad that she should have left in the fish tank. She still searched for her prince, but had seen in a movie somewhere that if you sprinkled salt at someone’s feet it meant you never wanted to see them again. The movie had something to do with the supernatural. She’d have to remember her salt shaker next time.

    Enough of that for now, Mandy had bigger problems. Like the body in the alley she’d tripped over ‘cause it blocked the doorway through which she’d made her escape. It added yet another complication to a blind date gone wrong.

    An anonymous 9-1-1 call sufficed for the mandate to do her civic duty, but she couldn’t afford to stick around for the first responders to show up. She’d never be able to explain what the Chief of Police was doing in that alley. Her private life wasn’t anyone’s business.

    When the call about the body came across her desk that morning, she responded with her usual efficiency despite only grabbing a few hours sleep. But when she arrived in the alley, shock set her back momentarily. In the dark she hadn’t recognized the vic. What had the mayor’s wife been up to in that part of town?

    Mandy spoke with the lieutenant in charge and learned the grisly details that explained the copious amounts of blood. Twenty-two stab wounds. Why hadn’t anyone heard her scream? Or maybe they had and, like that case ages ago, chose to ignore them.

    The Mayor explained how he’d received a call from his wife the evening before. She’d taken a wrong turn on her way home from an event and run out of gas. But the call was cut short. He’d been up all night searching for her. Mandy noted his lack of disheveled appearance. If he’d been up all night, why’d he look like he’d just stepped out of the shower after a full nights rest?

    His hostility at her routine questioning raised her suspicions even further. Searching all night meant no one could vouch for his whereabouts which meant he really didn’t have an alibi for the time of his wife’s death.

    Mandy knew the search warrant could cost her her job, but she called a favor in to get one anyway. They found the bloody clothes sealed in a plastic bag buried in a freshly dug hole in the garden out back. But what was his motive? Twenty-two stab wounds meant a lot of passion-fueled rage. No screams meant he’d killed her somewhere else and dumped her in that alley.

    A computer search revealed his honors secret life. His must have wife discovered he liked pretty young coeds. The clothes weren’t the only thing Mandy found buried in the back yard.

    Since when did serial killers start listing with on-line dating services?

    1. Fourth sentence from the last should read, "His wife must have discovered . . ."

  7. Food
    444 words
    (Special Challenge Accepted)

    Stumbling out of the darkened building, he noticed blearily he was missing food. He turned slowly and stepped back inside the low, stone structure. His eyes flickered as if lit by supernatural light bulbs just getting juiced.

    Two steps. He was back in full dark. His eyes sparking brighter now.

    He scanned the room, eyes darting ten times faster than his body. His mind subconsciously filtering stimulus. “Chair” and “table” didn’t register. “Wood” and “rocks” did – “not food”.

    A few more steps nearly centered him in the room. He instinctively tilted his head. Smells began to register, but none were “food”.

    His feet slipped and slid down low piles of odds and ends that partially blocked short aisles. He continued scanning the room as he went, eyes moving unnaturally fast now. His mind carried on, registering stimulus and categorizing.

    “Wood”. “Not food”.

    His eyes glowed steadily now as he scanned the deeper darkness in the back of the room. His vision almost infrared at this light level, his mind now categorizing shapes.

    The sound of splashing water drew his attention but confused his system. Splashing water was “food” – or maybe “food”. The large, rectangular outline shape high against the wall was “not food”.

    He lifted both hands and felt the squared object. Cold. “Not food”.

    But, the splashing was louder. “Food.” Maybe “food”.

    He shoved the “cold” thing and it exploded on the floor in a mass of glass and water as only a fish tank can. He lowered his blazing eyes and new shapes registered. “Rocks”. “Not food”. “Glass”. “Not food”. A smaller, fast - moving shape. “Food”, or “maybe food”.

    A faint splish – splash sound. “Food”, or “maybe food”.

    A salt water smell to the air. “Food”, or “maybe food”.

    He fell to the floor as if a giant scythe had scissored the air and cut him off at the knees. He threw his hands out again and again at the small, faster moving shape. If he felt the glass cutting him he didn’t show it. He kept his eyes on the thing, plunging his hands through “rocks” (“not food”) and “glass” (“not food”) to get it.

    Once he had the fast, “maybe food” shape in his hands, he squeezed it tight and he felt warmth.

    The final piece in place, instinct took over and he shoved both hands toward his mouth, gulping down the “food” thing.

    He slowly and clumsily got to his feet, his sun – bleached, tattered, blue, “Don’s Bait & Tackle” uniform shirt draped on him in soaked, salt – smelling ribbons.

    His eyes sparked again. He slowly turned in place, searching, his mind back to task.

    “Food”. “Not food”.

    Jeff Stickler

    *This is my first time writing for Finish That Thought! I hope you enjoy reading my entry. Comments and constructive criticisms always welcome. My email is: Thank you!

  8. @GeoffHolme
    Word Count: 389
    (Special challenge accepted)


    Stumbling out of the bedroom in my no longer hidden, shocking pink, silk robe de chambre, my head throbbing with the mother of all hangovers, I rued the need for the Dutch courage of a bottle of gin last night: coming out of the closet at my time of life and admitting to my wife that I was - say it with me, girlfriend… GA-AY! - had been, to put it mildly, scary la-las!

    I noticed blearily that Blanche was missing from her customary morning stool at the breakfast bar, cigarette in one hand, cup of steaming java in the other.

    Her favourite hat, which she habitually wore on her daily jog around the park, was still hanging on the rack, its peak covered in a scuzzy white stain - a deposit of sodium salt left after the evaporation of sweat, Sheba, my science-geek sister, once explained to me.

    Gus, the goldfish that I had won on the hoop-la stall at the fairground, lay motionless on his side at the top of the water, looking for all the world as if he were dead. But then I noticed the empty tub of food in front of the fish tank. Overfeeding a goldfish can induces a disorder of its swim bladder that affects its equilibrium. Blanche would have known this and done it deliberately in order to make me think he’d gone to meet his maker, and flush his tiny, aureate body down the john.

    If she was so vindictive as to do this, then…

    I ran to the study. The piercing glare from the computer screen seared my aching eyeballs. After I managed to focus, I read the note that Blanche had left:


    If you haven’t guessed already, I am leaving you.

    I have taken everything I hold dear: my first edition of “The Wind in the Willows”, with its superb illustrations of Mole, Ratty and Mr Toad, and my collection of supernatural thrillers.

    Do as you see fit with the rest of my things. I won’t be back.


    PS You may notice that I have deleted the 100,000-word thesis on TV drama that you had almost completed after two years. You will have to start it ALL OVER AGAIN! Just try not to end it, like that notorious last episode of The Sopranos, in the middle of a

  9. Fictitious Reality
    Word Count: 488
    Special Challenge Accepted

    Stumbling out the door, he noticed blearily, that he was missing his pen. Slamming the door shut Robbie stepped back, waiting. Shrieks filled the night from behind the door. He glanced over at Mike holding up his empty hands.

    "Run!" Mike shouted, knowing that without a pen they had no power against the beast. Robbie tried to protest but his tongue, a salty toad, felt too large in his mouth to form any words. He let out a sigh and trudged behind Mike, barely keeping up.

    "Where are we?" Mike shouted back at Robbie.

    "I have no idea." he managed to choke out. That was a lie. He knew where they were, at least he was pretty sure. When he had written "AND THEN A DOOR APPEARED" on the wall in the hallway, a picture of his fictitious world flashed in his mind. Mike was not going to be happy. Robbie continued to run several legs behind his friend as they weaved in and out of the trees. He could barely see, the thick canopy hardly letting any moon light through. Robbie, thoughts racing, tried to pinpoint where they were. Nothing looked familiar, and why would it? He had never seen the place before, only in his mind's eye. But this was his world, only existing because he wrote it into being. Robbie stopped, his mouth dry, he needed water.

    "Why are you stopping?" Mike jogged over to where Robbie was now leaning against a tree, supporting his heavy body.


    Mike shut his eyes. There was no more shrieking. Nothing but the distant trickling of water punctured the silent darkness.

    "A creek." Robbie pushed off the tree, forcing himself to move toward the noise. The Creek of the Silver Trees. If they could follow it north they would find refuge. Mike trailed behind now, letting Robbie lead. As they got closer the trees started to thin, allowing more light to seep though. 20 paces ahead lay a stream, bubbling loudly now. The boys quickened their stride, falling on their knees at the grassy creek-side. Mike plunged his head right in, taking large dregs of the cold liquid. Robbie drank from his hand, eyes searching the trees. The Silver Trees was a fairly peaceful forest but there was always reason to stay alert.

    "We should rest here. It will be light soon," Robbie said matter-of-factually. Mike nodded. He was glad Mike trusted him, no questions. They both picked trees and sat back. Robbie let Mike sleep, even though he felt like dropping dead himself but only he knew what to look out for.

    As the sun rose Robbie sucked in air sharply, stunned by the sight. The sun's rays bounced off the leaves of the trees, bright silver reflections cascaded through the forest as if it were filled with thousands of tiny mirrors. Mike awoke, light shining in his face.

    "Dude, where are we?"

    "Mike, welcome to Erdő."

  10. Southern Hospitality
    434 Words

    Stumbling out of the wreckage she noticed blearily that she was missing her shoe. But that was the least of her concerns. Smoke billowed around her body, choking the oxygen in the air, and causing a massive coughing fit. Flashing lights consumed her vision, a bright display of red and blue. Paramedics. Help. Glass cut into her one bare foot as she turned to survey the crash site.

    This had started off as a forced vacation, paid for by the courtesy of Rachel's boss, who declared one day that she was “stressed and overworked” (Rachel disagreed, of course). Being a social worker on the east side of New York City, there was rarely a day off and dozens of reasons to stay overtime. But now that she was essentially stranded in the back country of Florida with the chartered plane her boss commissioned in flames, she was at a lost.

    “Miss! Miss! Are you okay?” It was the first wave of medics.
    “I think I'm fine, just scraped up. Find the pilot! I couldn't tell if he made it out.”

    The young man nodded and moved on. He was replaced by another paramedic, an older woman who immediately sat Rachel down underneath a tree and wrapped a blanket around her shoulders. The woman walked through the routine questions, checking vision, breathing and for any serious bleeding. Twenty minutes later Rachel was checked out as alright, and the medic left her alone to her thoughts.

    Always a planner, she began to think through her limited options. Even if she did have a cell phone, she highly doubted it would have service here in the swampy marsh. The dark humor of the situation brought out a painful chuckle. Or maybe that was just the shock of the last few hours finally setting in. The psychoanalyzing could be saved for later. Worry for her companion was eased as she saw the older man being carried into the back of an ambulance, an oxygen mask covering his face. Now she could leave this scene of destruction. A blur of movements and within minutes, she was settled into the back of her own ambulance rolling down a dirt path.

    Inhale. Exhale.

    The bleached, medicinal smell of hospital filled her nostrils, a welcoming scent that covered the toxicity of burned rubber. Silver lining of the situation – no cellphone, no distractions. Just one week alone to see if this southern hospitality was as therapeutic as her boss claimed. After planning everything down to the last minute detail all of her thirty years, maybe she could finally experience this thing called relaxation.

  11. Don't Forget Your Schoolwork
    496 words. @ParkInkSpot
    Stumbling out of the gymnasium, she noticed blearily that she was missing her backpack. Talk about a disaster—her homework, cell phone, schoolbooks, and worst of all her theme were in the backpack. Mrs. Marten’s theme, five hundred words on “what historical figure would you invite to dinner.” It counted for thirty percent of her final grade for Composition. Sara was positive her choice of subject and her research for this paper would be sure to score at least an A minus, and her GPA could certainly use the help.

    No choice, she’d have to trudge back through the darkened and stinky gym for her stuff.

    In Sara’s opinion, the gym was the dreariest building in Madison High. It didn’t help that she was the last to leave. The championship banners, celebrating Cougar victories clear back to the seventies, drooped like forgotten and abandoned shrouds in the dark. Absence of light sucked the color and joy right out of them.

    All that remained was the sweaty-boy locker smell that always wrinkled her nose and clung to the gym’s interior no matter how diligently Mr. Saunders scrubbed the floors after games.

    When cheerleader practice ran late, and it often did, Sara was responsible for cleaning up the girls’ locker room. At least it didn’t smell as bad as the boys’ did. All that entailed was picking up the wet towels, closing the lockers, and double-checking that the water in the showers was off.

    Jenny’s locker was still open. Photos of Perfect Jenny, her Perfect Boyfriend, Miss Perfect Butt and Perfect Legs enjoying her Perfect Life plastered over the inside of the locker and its tiny door. How did I miss that on the way out? Sara pushed it shut and shook her head. I must have been daydreaming or something.

    She missed the dark streaks that her fingertips left on the painted metal, turning to check the showers again.

    Sara stepped carefully over the feet in the doorway and wiggled each of the shower taps to check they were off. No time for that, I need to grab my theme and get home. Never mind that crumpled shape in the corner or the pool of red slowly expanding over the tiled floor.

    She hefted the backpack over her shoulder. This was such a good theme. Choose a Historical figure, avoid the obvious presidents and royalty, who would it be educational to meet, who would earn her the best grade? Who could help me most?

    That’s why this theme was so perfect. It was still an unsolved crime, still a mystery, still a topic rife with lots of footnote material. Researchers still earned doctorates studying this dude.

    Now Sara loved him. Looking over in that corner, I do believe Jenny loves him too. Throat slashed, twice. Ovaries removed with surgical precision. Jenny was the final bit of research for Sara’s theme about the Ripper. How would it feel to gank a whore and move up to head cheerleader?