Tuesday, July 16, 2013


Welcome back to FINISH THAT THOUGHT! A brand new weekly flash fiction contest! Every Tuesday you will receive the start of your story right here on this blog in the form of a first sentence. You must use this sentence as the first sentence in your story and take it from there! Show me action, adventure, romance, mystery, scifi, and all things fantastical (pretty much anything except erotica. Actually, if it'd be rated R in a movie, please don't put it up. Thanks!).  

Each week there will also be a Special Challenge, issued by the judge, that is purely optional in addition to the first sentence (this can include, but is not limited to, specific words, themes, actions, pictures, or objects to include in your story).

There will be two winners named each week: One Grand Champion and one Special Challenge Champion (they may be the same person). The judge may also award one (and only one) runner up in each category. The Grand Champion will be the judge the next week . If that person is unable to fulfill that role, it will go to the Special Challenge Champion. The Champions will receive world-wide acclaim...er...mmm...at least a shoutout on twitter from everyone about how awesome they are! (And I'm working on a badge!)

You will have up to 500 words to play with, don't go over or you will be disqualified. Most of all, have fun! Try something different! Get out of your comfort zone!

Post your story in the comments section with your Twitter handle (or email if you don't have Twitter) and word count and be sure to mention if you've completed the requirements for the Special Challenge - we wouldn't want to accidentally miss anyone! The judging will be posted by Thursday (hopefully Wednesday afternoon).

Let me sum up:
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

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 Mark over at mysoulstears also known as @LurchMunster. Read his winning tale from last week here!

And now for the part you've all been waiting for (and crossing your arms and tapping your feet...) *ahem* HERE'S YOUR PROMPT!

Your first sentence for FINISH THAT THOUGHT #2 is:

"Watch out for that tree!"

And your Special Challenge is:




  1. Running

    "Watch out for that tree!" Steph called a fraction too late for Brandon to avoid it. He crashed head long into the trunk, wind and legs knocked from him in equal measure. Steph stopped, hands on hips, drinking in big gulps of air, all the while checking the surrounding area for movement. "You OK?"

    Brandon, slowly stood brushing leaves and bits of twig from his body, "Yes, I think so. Nothing seems to be broken," he wiped at moisture trickling down the side of his face, his hand coming away bloody. "Got a bit of a cut, though. Is it bad?"

    Steph checked the wound, "Not too deep, it's stopping. Do you think they'll be able to smell the blood?"

    Brandon laughed loud, "Of course they will. Not that it makes any difference, their kind hear the blood pumping through our veins, the pounding of our hearts. It fills their every waking moment. They live and breath our blood as if they are in the midst of a sandstorm with no way out."

    "Then why are we running? Doesn't seem to be much point if they'll find us anyway." Steph signed and sank to the floor.

    "We run because they're lazy. If its too much hassle or work to catch you, they leave you alone. We only need to be faster than the others." Brandon smiled, "And we are." Several humans crashed through the area around them, running for all they were worth. Grabbing Steph by the hand Brandon pulled her up, "Well we were the fastest, come on get moving!!"

    So they ran, they kept running until they felt they couldn't, then they dug a bit deeper and ran some more. Eventually the sun rose and they could stop, rest, recharge.

    At sunset it would all begin again.

    Word Count : 308
    Special Challenge sneaked in also :)

  2. My ineligible entry, of course. :)

    “Watch out for that tree!” the sensors on my excursion vehicle screamed in my ears, as they slammed on the brakes, barely stopping our forward motion in time. We did not hit the tree.

    That wasn’t the scary part. The scary part was the tree itself. It wasn’t supposed to be here. Nothing was supposed to be here. This world was supposed to be baren. 95% the size of Earth Prime, with no water at all. Nothing but sand. Millions of square miles of sand.

    The entire surface of the planet was a desert, covered by a perpetual sandstorm. There was no way anything could survive in that. Except maybe microbes. Which was why I was exploring the surface. Searching for microbes to satisfy our human curiosity, and answer the questions, “Can life exist on such a world? If it can, what would that life be like?”

    But there it was. A tree. I stepped off the platform of my vehicle, and put my hand against the tree. I couldn’t touch it, being encased in my excursion field. I couldn’t turn off the field either. There was no oxygen in the atmosphere. The 65C temperature would quickly fry me, and the jagged edges of the silicon dust that filled the atmosphere would shred my lungs.

    But it was a tree. I took pictures and had the excursion vehicle take measurements. I couldn’t take samples. I didn’t know what would happen if I did. So, I followed protocols, and measured everything I could.

    It turned out such trees covered that entire world. One about every 100 square meters. Made of silicon, drawing power from the sandstorm. The trees were networked together, using fiber optic cables as roots.

    We’d never seen anything like it, and it could take centuries for us to figure out those trees.

    I find it refreshing that despite all our technology, spread across hundreds of star systems in the galaxy, our scientific abilities that give us god-like capabilities exceeding anything we’d ever expected to be capable of, there are things we don’t know, or understand.

    347 Ineligible Words

  3. “Watch out for that tree! Left!” I didn’t know who yelled or what they saw, but my job was to do, not to think, so I pushed the yoke hard left and narrowly missed the sequoia that had popped up in front of us. The branches rubbed against the side of the ‘copt, and there was a stomach-turning tearing noise as something came loose. Had to be one of the stabilizers, from the way the ‘copt bucked in my hands.

    I tongued the mic on. “We’re going down! Find a spot!”

    “There’s a spot, two point four klicks ahead. Not uninhabited, though!”

    “They’d better duck!” We’d make it that far, but no further without some repairs, and I wasn’t going to risk the mission for some partially-evolved life-forms who’d discovered fire but still worshiped it.

    The landing was rough on us, rougher on the straw hut we landed on, and roughest of all on the poor bastard who’d built it. I had to step over him, or what was left of him, to get to the stabilizer. As I did so, and saw what we’d done to him, I felt bad for a moment, and hoped that his fire gods had at least made it quick. I wouldn’t lose much sleep over him, given the number of creatures from all over the omniverse I’d seen killed, or killed myself, but …ah, there’s the stabilizer.

    Just a snapped strut, thankfully. I called for assistance, and it wasn’t long before the ‘copt was up and running again. As long as we were on the ground, though, we took some samples and added them to the archive. Maybe the techs would find something useful in Old Squishy’s DNA.

    We were late to the rendezvous point, and I got reamed for a bit by the mission commander, but his heart wasn’t really in it. He’d been sleepwalking through his job since the mission in the Narindra Cluster had been such a cluster…well, not of success, and he needed to step down. If he didn’t by the time we reached the next waypoint, I’d help him along to his permanent retirement, and I knew he’d be glad for the rest.

    “Sandstorm! Sandstorm! Sandstorm!” The ‘copt had broken out of Between and into winds that were a hundred kph if they were one. The sand was peeling the paint off the ‘copt, and I was worried that our field repair on the stabilizer wouldn’t hold. Turned out, though, that wasn’t the biggest worry we had. We were pointed down, not sideways, and the ground was coming up awful fast.

    “Mayday! Mayday!” I’d never radioed for help like that before, but we were flying blind, and I had no control of the ‘copt. I fought as much as I could, but we were going to hit something, and hard.

    The speaker clicked on in my ears. “Sorry, but no. I know what you were planning, and I can’t have that.”

    Guess he wasn’t asleep after all.

    499 words
    Special Challenge

  4. “Watch out for that tree!”

    Margot dives into a roll, but not quite fast enough, and the branches scratch her arms, tearing her shirt. She steps back a few paces and flashes me a quick smile before turning to face her new opponent.

    The oak only has a few rings beyond sapling, but is a determined fighter – better strategy than I’ve seen on most foliage that size. The young are usually, pardon the pun, greener. But this one seems to have absorbed techniques older trees use, diverting an opponent’s attention while sliding into position for a better attack.

    If Margot were a lesser ‘jack then she’d be in trouble, but the extra hours put in after classes, and coveted holiday hours spent in groves has paid off. The other fights have drifted away from hers. The burrowing tortoise has found a softer belly in other contestants, letting her concentrate on the flora.

    The oak rains down acorns on her, but Margot is prepared for the move. Her shield scatters most of them, but a few find flesh. Her eyes are bright with adrenaline, but her brow furrows as she glances at the fallen seeds. She nudges one with her steel-toed boot, and frowns. A rustling alerts her, and she jumps back. The oak’s leaves shake as though a tropical storm disturb them, but the day is dry and still.

    Margot is treading more carefully now, concentration replacing her reassured smile.

    I lean closer, trying to determine what’s wrong, but a holly bush slides in and blocks my view. The kid hacking at the other side is greener than a sapling, his arms covered in small scratches from the sharp leaves, his blood as bright as his opponents’ berries.

    A rustle and thump from beyond the bush, and I hear Margot let out a little yelp of surprise. Growling in frustration, I squeeze past the other viewers, and run for the little hill beyond the observation deck. The field is full of motion, flora and fauna paired off against human fighters, a twisting of nature and brutality where our youth prove their worth to become full ‘jacks, sanctioned to go on missions with the adults.

    There are always those who try too early – I’m going to wait until I’m sixteen, personally, but Margot, at fourteen she’s better than most who have the full two score most ‘jacks do.

    I scan the grounds again, trying to pick out Margot. My eyes finally settle on the one spot in the field where stillness reigns. Splintered branches of the oak are jarring sight, but my heart stops as I see Margot, still as the tree, propped up against its bark. Tears form in my eyes as I realize the leaves that surround do not belong to the oak.

    It is as lifeless as she.

    The glossy foliage is inherent to an older plant. Craftier. Pulling Margot into a final embrace, waist and throat.

    A creeper vine.

    @weylyn42 ; 492 words

  5. Here is my entry!

    “Watch out for that tree!” Davion warned, his voice hoarse and cracked from the combination of adrenaline and exhaustion that played tug of war on his little body.

    Without really looking, I sidestepped in his direction, missing the tree but losing my footing. I danced around the heavily wooded forest until I caught my balance again.

    BANG! The bullet zipped through the air and pierced a nearby tree.

    Davion jumped from fright and stumbled to the ground. In one quick movement I spun around and helped him to his feet.

    “We have to move!” I said, grabbing his hand and tugging him along.

    “I’m trying, Anya.” He said with a little choke. “I’m little.”

    I scooped him up in my arms and took off deeper into the forest. My entire body ached in protest but I knew that Davion had had enough. He was only five years old, after all.

    BANG! BANG! BANG! Each shot was fired in rapid secession with very poor aim. Our sperm donor was getting angry and desperate and it showed in his shooting.

    I don’t know what caused our father to become so evil. He wasn’t a part of our lives until Davion’s mother, who raised me alongside of Davion as her own, passed away. When he first took us in, I thought it was out of guilt or grief, but I learned very quickly that it was a far more sinister reason too terrible to mention. We were nothing but punching bags that built up revenue. When he attempted to use me to pay off his gambling debts, I decided to use his head as a baseball and took a bat to it. We had been running ever since.

    The adrenaline was rushing so fast through my body that I thought I might explode. My eyes darted around the evergreens and rocks so fast that I really didn’t see anything at all. My heart pounded against my chest hard and for a brief moment, I thought we were going to get caught.

    Think. Think. Think. My mind was racing faster than my legs were running. The uneven terrain of the mountains didn’t help much, either. Everything was working against me.

    And then suddenly we were falling. I had stepped onto some old wooden slats that were covering some sort of sinkhole or something.

    I held on to Davion and took the brunt of the impact. All the air left my body and I nearly lost consciousness. When my vision stopped blurring, I looked up and I couldn’t believe what I saw. Whatever we fell through was already covered up. In fact, it looked like we had never fallen at all.

    “I can’t believe it!”

    I nearly had a heart attack when he spoke. A ball of light erupted around a strange-looking middle-aged man with pointy ears.

    “We’ve died and went to Middle Earth.” I gasped.

    “You are really here!” He said with an excited grin. “Friends call me Sandstorm. My people need your help!”

    Word Count: exactly 500
    Special Challeng Accepted :D

  6. “Watch out for that tree!"

    The boy took his nose out of the book long enough to navigate around the palm trunk and nod his thanks to the old lady who'd shouted the warning.

    "Watch where you're walking, kid!"

    Tires screeched as he stepped into the crosswalk without looking up.

    "Watch out for those flying saucers!"

    His eyes popped up over the edge of the book. "What? Where?"

    A freckle-nosed red-head stood in his path. "You're so predictable, Dylan!"

    He hesitated, torn between the paragraph his thumb was marking and the distracting female.

    "So, whatcha reading today?"

    He sighed, put his bookmark in the page, and closed the cover. "A mystery."

    "You want to help solve a real mystery?"


    "My pops is setting up a new exhibit at the museum and there've been some strange things going on."

    "Like what?"

    "A pair of swords are missing, a scarab bracelet broke, and two workers got sick. Oh! And a weird sandstorm appeared right before each incident."

    He was hooked. Books were swell and all, but given a flesh-and-blood girl and a real-life mystery to solve, make-believe would have to wait.

    = = = = =
    @bullishink / 190 words
    Special Challenge Accepted - I think!

    1. Totally unhappy you ended your story there. A sandstorm that appears just before shenanigans?? a bookworm and a freckled redhead? this is AWESOME and I love it! and need more!

  7. “Watch out for that tree!”

    I must have heard that a thousand times growing up. Funny, as integrated a town as ours was, you’d think we’d have put that sort of talk long behind us. But no.

    “Go back to kindergarten, bark brains.”

    “Make like a tree and leaf!”

    “Hey, sap-head, your roots are showing.”

    A few teachers intervened half-heartedly on the dryad’s behalf. Most, however, feigned deafness, and let the bullies rule the classroom as bullies have done since the dawn of time. Truth be told, we all felt a bit unsettled by her presence at times: the dark earthiness of her voice (the rare times she spoke); her languid gait – she seemed to move through the floor rather than on top of it; and the way her thick brown hair crawled across her shoulders even with classroom windows shut tight.

    One summer a few of the older kids made a game of trying to find her tree, captained by two or three of the stronger vampires who hated her vitality, and the were-dragon, for whom trees always meant kindling. But our woods were wild and deep. No matter how feverishly the hunters searched, they inevitably came back disappointed and angry, dragging soulless but bruised saplings behind them.

    “You shouldn’t have done that,” said the dryad quietly.

    The hunters blanched a bit at that, but after a few days passed and nothing happened, they laughed it off and resumed their searches. It eventually turned into a regular village party of sorts, with a big barbecue to kick the hunt off each time. One of the grannies (a crazy-eyed phoenix whose burning day was waaay past due) even embroidered and sold t-shirts for the event. A picture of grinning logs on a bonfire sat just above the boldfaced words: “All Fired Up.”

    The dryad watched all of this silently, even as the pile of saplings the hunters brought back grew.

    A lot of the rest of us were watching, too, in disgust.

    “It’s just not right, what they’re doing,” I told my parents over dinner one night. “Some of my friends’ parents are talking about moving.”

    “It isn’t right,” my mother agreed. “A lot of us feel that way. She’s a dryad, for pete’s sake, not a gryphon or medusa or somebody who might accidentally burn down the sweets shop.”

    “I wish somebody would do something,” I grumbled. “What if they find her tree?”

    But nobody ever did anything.

    And they did find her tree.

    Or so we assumed, since one day the hunting party never came back. Some people looked around town for the dryad to ask her about it, but she seemed to have vanished too.

    “That’s what happens to meddlers,” said my father. “You remember that. Keep your nose clean, you’ll do fine. Let trouble-makers take care of themselves.”

    End of the story, we thought.

    Except it turns out the dryad was talking to all of us.

    We really should have watched out for that tree.

    @postupak, 499 words

  8. Tamara Shoemaker
    Word Count: 484


    “Watch out for that tree!”

    The man laughed comfortably to himself as he turned back to his Jeep. The heat rippled off its metal hood in shimmering waves that sharpened the outlines of his windshield and roof.

    Tree indeed. In the middle of the Sahara. It was the equivalent of a polar ice-cap on a Sarasota sidewalk in Florida on the fourth of July. Nonexistent.

    The day I'd taken the challenge to cross the Sahara on foot was apparently the day I had released all rational thought into the ether. Together with eleven other contestants, we were to travel northwest across the desert until we reached Cairo. All our equipment rode on our backs.

    I shaded my eyes with the palm of my hand; the blistering glare of the sun sparkled off the roof of the Jeep as it disappeared into the distance. And then we stared at each other, each of us grim-faced and solemn.

    What I wouldn't give for a camel. I wasn't sure if I meant the animal or the smoke. Either way, I wished I could rewind time to three months ago before I'd signed on the dotted line.

    The only others accompanying us was the camera crew, and they were just as bad off as we were, with their supplies of water and food in a small motorized trailer they dragged behind.

    I glanced at the yellow-gold sand at my feet and watched a sand crab scuttle into his hole only two feet to my right. I wondered how many critters we'd meet along the trek.

    A line of sepia darkened the gold sand. The line drew closer and closer to my feet, and then crossed beneath them. I glanced up at the sun, but realized it was no longer there. Blackness towered above us, and sand flew in a whirling Colossus that pounded toward us.

    I glanced around at the others and saw the fear that seeped from their eyes. We couldn't outrun it. We'd have to huddle down, get through the storm, somehow.

    We did. Sand filled our eyes, our mouths, our noses, our pores; any area on our bodies that could possibly be filled was packed to capacity. When the storm stopped and the blazing sun returned to the scorching sky, I looked around. The team was gone. The camera crew had disappeared. I was all by myself in a landscape of sand mountains as far as I could see.

    The water lasted a several days, even weeks, but by the time the last drop had moistened my cracked, parched lips, I knew the Sahara would cover me, would storm me with sand; the dunes would be my epitaph.

    I moved until I could move no longer. When I couldn't support my weight, I crawled. When I couldn't crawl, I stared at the ridge of the nearest dune.

    A tree shimmered in the heat waves.

    1. Whoops, still getting used to this flash fiction. Special challenge accepted. :)