Monday, September 30, 2013


Is it just me, or is time set on warp drive mode??? It does not seem possible that an entire week has passed already! BUT that just means we get to read more great stories by you all! Who's ready for another week? Well, let's 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

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 Tinman. Go check out his blog here. Read his winning tale from last week here!

Your first sentence for FINISH THAT THOUGHT #13 is:

It was something [s]he'd never done before.

 Your SPECIAL CHALLENGE from the judge is:

[Mention] TV game show[s].



  1. It was something she’d never done before, sitting on this side of the counter. Mya clutched her paperwork in one palsied hand. In the corner, the tv blared some stupid game show where the host was making the contestant chose between keeping what she’d won or going for the big prize. Mya sympathized with the woman’s obvious discomfort.

    The receptionist looked up. “Ms. Stone?” he asked. “I’m ready for you.”
    Mya limped forward and handed over her papers. The receptionist scanned down them. He shook his head. “I’m sorry, you forgot to fill out…”

    Mya flipped the paper over. “Here, see? I’m filing under 19AZ.6, not 7”. She gave the clerk a smile, hoping she didn’t seem too nervous. “It’s an acceptable variation.”

    The young man — had she looked that young when she’d started at the office across town? — nodded. “Why are you filing here instead of at Mulberry Street?” the clerk asked. “It’s a lot closer to where you live.”

    “Oh, I had business on this side of town,” Mya said vaguely. She didn’t want her coworkers to gossip. They’d fine out soon enough.

    At last the clerk finished. He swept the papers into a file and handed them back to Mya. “Ok, the mechanic will see you in just a minute.”

    Mya sat again as the game show host mocked the contestant, who’d traded an all-expense-paid trip to Tahiti for a box that turned out to contain catfish steaks. She just hoped she wasn’t doing the same thing. Buying a pig in a poke. She still had time to back out. All she had to do was take her papers and leave.

    The door opened and a pretty young nurse in crisp scrubs smiled at her. “Ms. Stone? With me.”

    Mya followed, swallowing her doubts, as the nurse lead her along a hall to a room. The familiar equipment stood all around, the table, the various robotic arms and IVs. The nurse waited outside as Mya put on the smock, then helped her up to the table when Mya’s knees refused to bend. “It’s easy,” the nurse promised. “You’ll go to sleep and when you wake up you’ll feel much better.”

    Mya stared up at the ceiling as the nurse affixed an IV. “Can I see the mechanic first?”

    The nurse shook her head. “Mechanic Janis is with someone else right now. You’ll be asleep before she comes in.”

    “How about — it?”

    The nurse hesitated, then nodded. “Sure.” She went to the window at the far side of the room and pulled back the curtain. Mya struggled to sit up. She stared into her face - her young, wrinkle-free face, eyes closed, no expression. “It looks real,” she said.

    “It is real.” The nurse smiled. “Best money can grow, straight from your own cells. Now, I need you to lie down and relax…”

    Mya closed her eyes. Her last thought, before the lights went out, was “I wonder if I’ll still hate broccoli.”

    498 words and I totally went for the special challenge. Hope I did this right...

    1. Oooo, face transplant. I like it. I kept guessing what she was actually going in for and kept getting it wrong. I like the little details, those always help. Fun read.

    2. Wonderful unveiling of the concept with a nice parallel w/ the game show--and what a fabulous last line!!!!

  2. "My Name Is..."
    499 Words

    It was something Austine had never done before. She nervously tapped her foot on the carpeted theater floor. Her friends said it would be good for her, so she came. She didn't agree. She thought the meeting would be a waste of time, but she secretly hoped it wouldn't.

    She surreptitiously scanned the room to see if she recognized anyone, but her newly formed instincts kicked in and she found herself searching for trouble, her fingers itching to reach to her holster or for the stake of rebar at her feet.

    “Hi.” Austine jerked around, interrupted. The calloused, hairy hand that was stretched out toward her in a friendly way did not match its owner, who was tall and lanky with a thin face and a crooked nose. He didn't necessarily appear unsavory. He was just rugged, and not rugged in the clean, handsome man-of-the-wilderness way that would make most women swoon. No, he looked like he just had spent two months in the mountains and had not bothered freshening up.

    Austine awkwardly rose, but he preempted her ungainly handshake with a meaty bear hug that ended with several firm pats on the back.

    “You look like you are new here and I just wanted to let you know how welcome you are,” he said in a voice both gushing and sympathetic. “I'm Sterling.”

    'No, sterling is one thing you certainly aren't,' Austine thought.

    “Hi, yeah, this is my first time. I'm Austine.” She paused, confused, “Are we supposed to give our names?”

    Sterling's laugh, like his voice, was unexpected, genuine and ungritty. “We're not anonymous. We're just a support group. What we do is hard, unforgiving. I don't need to tell you what a nasty business killing zombies can be. We need a place to unburden ourselves; share our thoughts and feelings in a safe place. Austine, this is a safe place to express your emotions. We understand.”

    Austine smiled politely, a bit disarmed by his gracious manner, but unsure of what to say next. She glanced to the side shyly and caught a glimpse of something amiss in her periphery. It let out a low moan and she immediately ducked beneath her seat back, her hand tangling to remove her six-shooter. She had just begun to let her guard down for the first time in heaven knows how long and now she was struggling to shift back on-point.

    Sterling, on the other hand, didn't falter a moment. In two swift movements he snaked a knife from beneath his sleeve and snicked it through the air and the zombie's left eye socket. The zombie groaned pitifully and subsided to the theater floor.

    That was what Austine had expected out of Sterling, a quick, uncompromising and deadly air that always got the job done; Clint Eastwood at his down and dirtiest. She could get to know this cowboy.

    “Whew,” he said congenially, “how did that make you feel? Do you want to talk about it?”

    1. this is AWESOME!!!! what a hilarious romp to read!

  3. 481 words. Thanks for hosting all of this, Alissa!

    It was something she’d never done before, but she’d always wanted to. Ever since she was a child—some 173 years prior—Alanna had watched “Dodge or Die”, and now she was really here, ready to compete. It was gruesome, sure, but it was worth it just to get that adrenaline rush, that human feeling of mortality that was increasingly difficult to attain. And not only that, but now she could show all those she loved how brave she really was.

    She sucked in a breath and blew out hard, exhaling a swarm of invisible butterflies that were busy ricocheting around in her stomach. She looked both directions and saw the other competitors. Somehow, they all looked more prepared than she did. Were they really more confident? Stronger? No, it had to be a trick of her imagination. All the contestants were randomly drawn from the solar system lottery. Surely they were all nervous.

    It was time to focus. It was time to visualize success. She looked straight ahead at the gauntlet that lay before her: a reverse climb over a spiked pit, a zip line between pendulum axes, a series of jumps and dives over and under spinning blades, and the saw drop—the notorious saw drop. Ok, I can do this, Alanna thought, as she sucked in another huge breath.

    “Contestants! Welcome to the starting line of the 350th biannual Dodge or Die game show! You all know the rules, and you all know the objective: Dodge or Die! Now remember, all of Earth and Mars are watching, all 47 billion people and sentient robotic organisms, so let’s give ‘em a show they’ll remember! The race will begin in 1 minute!”

    Alanna knew that dying wasn't a big deal; she had her consciousness backed up just that morning, and it was redundantly stored on a network of satellites floating through the solar system. If she died instead of dodged, the biomaterial flesh engineers would just repair her body, reload her last brain-state, and voila. Even so, now staring at the gauntlet, some primordial instinct rose in her belly, screaming at her not to go on. She felt alive and loved it. This is why she came; to feel connected to her natural instincts again.

    “10 seconds!...5...4...3...2...1...GO!”

    The world exploded into action and so did Alanna. Run. Jump. Duck. Jump. Duck. Spin. Her thoughts were driven by pure reflex and instinct. They were as raw as existence itself. Dive. Jump. Dive. She grinned broadly, seeing the competitors around her disintegrate or fall away. I might just win, she thought. There's only one obstacle left, just stay calm and—

    The saw descended, and Alanna descended into darkness.

    She woke two days later with a start. Looking around groggily, she saw a trophy sitting on her nightstand: “Thank you for participating in Dodge or Die!” She read the words, shrugged, and smiled.


  4. A fun read. There is something about gladiatorial contests that really strikes some sort of innate curiosity or something. I actually wish that the contest were more words so that you had more time to really flesh this story out!

    1. I agree--this was a great concept and some really nice world-building. Too fun!!

  5. The Pink Paper

    It was something she’d never done before.

    An unemotional voice motioned her into the room.

    “Next,” the voice called. “Number fifty-seven, please.”

    Amelie swallowed hard, flattening out the number fifty-seven attached to her chest. She’d waited so long for this moment: it seemed much easier on America’s Got Talent. Nick Cannon never mentioned the clammy palms, the shortened breath, the bottomless pit in your core. She pulled at the hem of her skirt, hoping it was acceptable. Amelie took one more breath, closed her eyes, and walked into the auditorium.

    “Number 57?” The same voice asked. Amelie remembered everything she’d learned before: keep confidence without seeming arrogant. Show want without showing desperation. Keep character and don’t mess up.

    No pressure.

    “Yes, ma’am...Misses…Miss.”

    Can I really sound this stupid right now? Amelie silently cursed.

    “It’s Miss. Please state your name, where you’re from.”

    “My name is Amelie Rivera, from Cameron, a small town in West Virginia.”

    “West Virginia, ah!” the man to the woman’s right interjected. Amelie noticed the house lights caught his balding head just so. She tried to focus. “Is that near Richmond?” he asked.

    Amelie refrained from showing the question irked her. Instead, Amelie smiled, answering politely.

    “No, sir, we’re not close to Richmond. We’re actually closer to Pittsburgh, if you’re looking for a major city for perspective.”

    “Ah, okay. What will you be performing today?”

    This is more like it. Amelie thought.

    “This is from A Raisin in the Sun, by Lorraine Hansberry. In this monologue, Beneatha is recalling a very detailed memory, and how this experience changed her.”

    “Very well,” the gruff female voice agreed, “Whenever you’re ready.”

    “’When I was very small’,” Amelie began, “’…we used to take our sleds out in the wintertime…’

    Amelie continued, beginning the monologue.

    “’It was very dangerous…far too steep…and sure enough one day…a kid….came down too fast and hit the sidewalk…and we saw his face just split open right there in front of us…’

    She was really getting into it now. Amelie could feel her expression translating all unsaid terror, reliving that moment in time, even if it was entirely imagined.

    “’But the ambulance came…and the next time I saw (him) he just had a little line down the middle of his face…I never got over that…’

    Amelie stole a glance in her peripheral vision: the directors were still watching her intently, focused. It gave her courage.

    “I wanted to do that…Fix up the sick…make them whole…’

    She concluded, bowing her head to indicate she was finished. The two directors’ pens moved furiously. Amelie noticed the woman cross a T and dot a couple of I’s.

    “Come here, please,” the woman instructed. Amelie felt her stomach tighten.

    The woman handed Amelie a bright pink paper. The male director smiled.

    “What’s this?” Amelie asked.

    “Call-backs. You’ve made the first cut.”

    Show confidence but not arrogance. Show pleasure but not desperation. Keep character. Amelie thought to herself.

    “Thank you, Miss,” Amelie answered.

    Grinning, Amelie left the auditon.

    496 Words
    Challenge Accepted