Monday, April 21, 2014


Welcome back! Thanks for stopping by and checking out the prompt this week! (And I had it posted HOURS ago!!! Woohoo! :) ) I can SO identify with the prompt sentence this week! Anyone with young children can relate! Can I get an Amen? (For that matter, anyone with a demanding job...or a video game addiction...or is a teenager...or a writer...can relate. (As can anyone else who's not a toddler.)) So... let me hear about it! Go write! :)

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 Erin Blake
also known as @sneaky_monkee. Read her winning tale from last week here!

 Your first sentence for FINISH THAT THOUGHT #42 is:

Sleep is a marvelous thing.

 Your SPECIAL CHALLENGE from the judge is:

Ducks. Just... ducks.



  1. The Sleeper

    “Sleep is a marvelous thing.”

    He stood over her still form, smiling a tender little smile that was all too rare these days, his voice low and gentle. She was a teen now—fourteen, in fact, full of all the rage and arrogance and comedy that marks girls her age. But now, with shadows tugging at the corners of the room and her frayed comforter with its cheery ducks tucked beneath her arms, she might have passed for nine or ten. She looked peaceful. Happy, even.

    In my hand lay a long to-do list for both of us. It could wait. Wrapping my arm around his, I stood next to him in the half-darkness, another silent watcher.

    In a few minutes they would come to take our daughter away. They would cover her pale, peaceful, warrior face with professional-grade pity and leave us alone with an empty room and her spent fury.

    But for now, smiling, weeping, we stood together silently and watched her, as though she only slept.

    169 words

  2. "Sleep Is a Marvellous Thing..."
    Cory John Eadson
    498 Words
    Special Challenge Accepted

    “Sleep is a marvellous thing,” said the duck, sidling up beside me.

    I steered my gaze away from the emerald lake for a second, to look at my new friend.

    “It sure is,” I said, “That's how I'm talking to you.”

    The duck blinked up at me, his head as smooth and as green as the water in that glistening pool before us.

    “Just think. You're curled up in bed now, with the sheets pulled over your head. But then you're here, talking to me on the bank of a big green lake, where the sky is a rainbow of colour and the air as sweet as honey.”

    “You're very poetic, for a duck.”

    “Well, it was your subconscious that made me.”

    “True...” I said, more than a little smugly.

    We both fell silent for a few minutes, taking in the honey-scented air and embracing how real it all felt. I didn't want to wake up. I wanted to stay here forever.

    I glanced down at my legs. I could move them here, I could walk around and dance in the meadows. I could climb and run and skip.

    The duck nudged me with his bill.

    “I can hear your thoughts, you know,” he said, winking at me.

    I smiled at him. I'd never seen a duck wink before.

    “I'm just thinking about all the things I can do here. All the things I can do without the need of a wheelchair. It's amazing.”

    I climbed to my feet, standing up straight. It felt so real, so right.

    “I can move all by myself!”

    As if to prove this, I ran around the duck a few times, before whirling around and throwing myself onto the soft grass, laughter tumbling from my mouth.

    “You're dreaming, girl,” the duck said simply. His words stung, and I turned my head away from him.

    “I know I am,” I replied bitterly, suddenly finding the air considerably less sweet.

    “No, no, you misunderstand! I mean it. You're dreaming. Running, walking, skipping? So what? My dear, where you are now, you can fly!”

    I rolled over and locked eyes with the duck, who cocked his head to one side cheekily.

    “Follow me!” he said, and stretching out his great wings, he took off and soared across the lake.
    I gulped, hesitated, then stood up again. I stared at the lake, and told myself that it was a dream. If anything went wrong, surely I'd just wake up?

    Throwing caution to the wind, I ran forwards, ran and ran and ran, and just before I reached the edge of the bank, I threw open my arms and jumped.

    And I flew.

    I flew high over the water, catching my gliding reflection on it's smooth surface. A warm breeze rushed through my hair, and in front of me I saw the duck, swooping and diving and rising again.

    Sleep is a marvellous thing.

  3. "To Sleep, Perchance Not To Dream"

    Sleep is a marvelous thing. It can create a solid wall between you and reality. Step inside the land of sleep and it can be like stepping inside a panic room, protected and separate from the outside world.
    The problem is when you carry things inside with you. Instead of finding security or quietness, never mind bliss, you found that which you had tried to escape had metastasized into something worse in the dreamscape.

    Lia laid herself down on the bed, curled on one side on top of the blankets, so eager to leave this world where it felt like every corner of her mind was filled with the death of her sister. She could not look at anything, taste anything, say anything without immediately thinking of Maya. Maya was not just a spectral presence looming behind her but a thousand Mayas that seemed to fill every corner of every room, displacing all the air.

    The nights leading up to the funeral had been full of dreams. And nightmares. And both produced tears in equal measure, though one hurt more deeply than the other. Lia dreamed that she and Maya were young again, playing games, exploring the back woods together. It was more like watching a home video than having a dream, but when she awoke, happy that she had been with Maya, it was crushing to lose her all over again.
    The nightmares stayed with her longer though. She would be trapped in some dream where a ragged and ruined Maya would come to her and plead to be saved. Maya would chase after her, and she didn't want to be run from her sister, but this ghoul wasn't her sister and this ghoul blamed Lia for its death.
    When she awoke from those nightmares she would feel her heart racing, adrenaline spiked and search the dark corners of the room with her eyes, certain she would find a malicious spirit lurking there.

    Funeral over, Lia's body and mind felt heavy, over saturated with grief and weak from lack of sleep. As she lay on the bed she felt like she turned to stone, heavy and still. On the precipice of sleep she had a moment to hope fervently that she could escape into a dreamless place, before tipping into dormancy.
    This was not to be.
    But for a change there was no lost sister. Lia instead stood at the edge of a pond where two yellow ducklings swam back and forth, leisurely and happy. It was sunny and Lia felt a sort of peace settle over her. Her subconscious was granting her a reprieve.

    When Lia awoke, many hours later she finally felt rested. Her husband's hand was on her back. She rolled toward him. Awake she felt a fine layer of grief resettle around her, but the quiet simpleness of good sleep had dulled the pain.
    "You sleep okay?" he asked her.
    "I did," she answered.
    "Any bad dreams?"
    "No, I saw ducks. Just ducks."

    498 Words
    Special challenge accepted

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Desert Song

    Sleep is a marvellous thing. Well to most people it is, but not to me! It is three days since I slept, but I know that soon I must give in. And then they will come back. They wait for me to close my eyes, I must not sleep, but how I long to rest, but if I do it will be forever. My eyelids flicker, I pinch myself, force myself to stand and stagger on, if I keep moving then I will stay awake. My mouth is dry, so dry, but I must keep going. The will to live is so great. Yet they circle cackling ever nearer above me.
    Another heavy step, sand filling my shoes, my skin is burning but I must keep going. Another dragging step and then one more, I count as I go. I will manage another fifty before I collapse. Forty-eight, forty-nine, the sun is getting lower. I imagine there is a gentle breeze and I am home walking on the beach. Then there is nothing more…
    “Wake up now, Mum,” I hear but my mind says “No.” I don’t want to wake, I want to sleep. “Please wake up Mrs Jordan,” my mind filters the interruption and drifts back far away. I can feel their panic around me but I don’t care, leave me alone, I think. But their efforts have been successful, I open an eye. My daughter stands there looking worried in her nurse’s scrubs. She should not be here, my conscious mind now registers. Another nurse bustles forwards talking and taking my ops. My mind sifts through memories. I am in hospital, why am I here? The details crawl through to my fore-brain, an operation. Yes I’d known about it and dreaded it for weeks. Why does everyone look so white and distraught?
    “Did the operation go wrong?” I manage to croak.
    “No Mrs Jordan, but we have been having trouble waking you. The surgeons finished three hours ago, but we couldn’t wake you from the anaesthetic.”
    The news is good and I drift off to sleep again, knowing I’d wake to pain but that the next time I would wake.

    364 words
    No ducks in this story!

  6. Duck Demons

    Sleep is a marvelous thing. When you sleep you can drift away, escaping the cares of the day. You can dream of fantastic things, recharging your body, mind, and spirit. We take it for granted and never realize just how precious it is, until we can't get any.

    I haven't had a solid night's sleep in over six months. The quality of my life has been significantly altered. I drag around all day long, it seems like I'm wading through knee-deep quicksand. I'm snappish and can't concentrate. Every time I start to doze off, a wave of panic sweeps over me and I wake up screaming. My mother always told me that there were no monsters in the dark. She was... wrong! I can see them. Their beady yellow eyes glare menacingly at me.

    Whenever I close my eyes I can feel them watching me. They creep closer every night, soon they'll be able to touch me. I don't know what will happen then, but I know that won't be... good. I've tried talking to my family and friends, but none of them believe me! I feel so isolated. I thought that I was crazy at first, the monsters are... duck demons!

    Weeks ago I went to see a psychiatrist and told him about my problems. He diagnosed me as having night terrors and gave me some prescriptions that were supposed to clear my mind. I took them, but the drugs didn't help one teeny bit, in fact they just made things... worse, a lot worse! They trapped me so that the ducks almost got me!

    I can hear the ducks breathing now. They pant heavily, gusting their steaming hot exhalations into my face. They quack, a high-pitched frequency, screeching like fingernails running down a chalkboard. I smell their stench, reeking of carrion and death. The nape of my neck prickles with revulsion, shivers tingle up and down my spine. Their dark red feathers bristle angrily. Their maws are filled with triple rows of needle sharp, narrow teeth, gleaming whitely against their black tongues. They slobber and drool as they stare at me. They lick their beaks hungrily as they inch ever nearer. I drive them back, shuddering in fear. I want to run, but there's no escape!

    I tried creating weapons and attacking the ducks. It didn't work. No matter how I sliced, diced, and fried them they just kept... coming back.
    They want something from me. I can feel thier demand, beating constantly against my will. It even follows me into the waking world now.

    I couldn't resist any longer. Last night I surrendered and let them engulf me. Why did I fight them so long? It is so peaceful now. A singular purpose fills my being. All conflict is gone. I exist only to do their ill.

    I raise the automatic and begin shooting. My psychiatrist is the first to die, we can't let him stop us. We laugh out loud, killing the humans. The slaughter is glorious!

    499 Words
    Special Challenge Accepted

  7. Rambling Thoughts From a Concerned Mind.

    Sleep is a marvelous thing. It is my favourite position to be in—not quite oblivious to the world but not directly interacting with it either. Not like hibernating, where systems shut off completely and you have to rely on your instincts to waken you at the proper time like ducks in winter. Nor is it like standby, where even the subtlest shake can arouse. In sleep, the mind can still churn away at data and the work of the day still floats through the subconscious to bring up dreams of where the story will go next. When I sleep, I know you’re excited about your work and it makes me energized as well.

    I like it best when we both sleep. You dreaming of what next to scrawl across our page, and me reading and re-reading what you have already typed so that as soon as you awaken me to continue, I can remember word for word everything we’ve brainstormed together. After several hours of peaceful slumber, I love it when that satisfying ah-ha! moment comes in the middle of the night or early morning. You wake, I wake, and instantly we hash out the next scene for your story. Or perhaps we flesh out one of your characters a little better. They inherit a bit more of their past or gain a new relation and suddenly the words fly like ducks.

    We make a delightful team, you and I. The chemistry is perfect, like a duck on water. And even though we have our ups and downs on the ripples of life, we come out stronger each time. Remember the time I caught a virus and could not work with you no matter how I tried to bring myself round? Remember how you spent hours nursing me and taking me to check-ups to revive me? I am dreadfully sorry I caused you such agitation. I blame myself that you came down with a severe cold after that.

    Then there are the pleasant memories we have together. I remember fondly the stroll we took down by the lake last June. You had me balanced on your arm as the ducks waddled in parade behind us. What a sight we were! As we figured out how to bring the hero and heroine together, we chortled to ourselves that if no one else liked our story, at least the ducks would be avid supporters.

    All of this to say, I may not be state of the art anymore, nor the fastest processor on the block, but I am family! So please stop looking at that fancy new tablet. Don't keep me sleeping forever.

    Word Count: 442
    Special Challenge!

  8. Putting your fears to rest.

    Sleep is a marvelous thing. I've heard it often enough, but when I watch him as the nightmares take him, I wonder if it's true for everyone. I still have nightmares of that day-- but he's the one who suffered.

    I sometimes wonder how much he remembers as he tosses in his sleep and whimpers. I know I should wake him before it gets worse, but its been so long since he slept and you know what they say about sleeping dogs.

    When the whimpering takes on an anxious tone, I know it's time to act. I call out as soothingly as I can muster, “It's okay... everything is all right,” but I know its a lie. His days as my partner are done.

    I could never send him in again-- I doubt I could ever send someone in like that again knowing what could happen... what did happen.

    I run my fingers along his shoulder, and soothe his tense muscles.

    He lifts his head and smiles at me, his eyes still clouded by sleep, he quickly drifts off, back to wherever he was before the nightmare started, secure in the lies I've told and I realize I'm projecting my own fears into his dreams.

    He's forgiven me for what had to be done-- and now, forever more the dream will be of goats, and sheep... and ducks... just ducks, if I have anything to say about it.

    He's been through enough... and so have I.

    Maybe buying the farm isn't a bad thing... when you... actually... buy a farm that is.

    Word Count: 262
    Special Challenge Accepted

  9. Sleep is a marvelous thing. In my dreams, I’m free, just a normal woman with kids and a house and a husband and a research lab filled with ducks. Before I was Captain Leslie McGee, commander of the Armstrong, I was little Les, the girl who followed her dad as he toured the remotest places on the continent. I saw snakes and bears and coyotes and penguins and a thousand insects which could kill me in my sleep, but what I loved the most was watching the ducks settling on the surface of the pond in our backyard. Dad would light his pipe and teach me how to take notes with my eyes and how to tell the future of a family of ducks just from the way they flew. If only I’d been able to do the same thing for myself.

    That there would be a biologist on the Armstrong was a given, once we saw the signs of life from Vega. Dad was a frustrated space junkie, so I applied, expecting nothing. And then because of fate and politics and an odd training accident in which I saved the lives of three of my crewmates, I was in charge.

    I try to tell myself that it’s not so bad here. I get food and clothing and shelter, which is a hell of a lot more than the billions displaced by the rising seas can say.

    When we returned, after I’d been the first human to talk to a creature which had a completely independent evolutionary origin, there were the usual parades and events and public speaking and visits from dignitaries and I was so flush with excitement that I didn’t notice that I was never alone.

    Eventually, I made the usual inquiries about going home. About leaving the organization and finding a house with a pond and a quiet research lab. But where could I go that would be quiet? No one wanted to talk to me as a person, to know about my research or my plans or my dreams. What was it like, they wanted to know. Tell me every detail. And so I did, until one day I wasn’t Les anymore, I was a living museum exhibit.

    After that, there was no choice, really, but to set me up here. Every day, including Christmas and Thanksgiving, I do three shows – four on special days, for the kids. And I climb into the mockup of the Armstrong, faithful to the last dial and switch, and I tell my story. I hear the crowd ooh at the same place every time, even the people who have been by to see me a hundred times. The 4D projector shows first contact, and I narrate, helping the 1:30 or 3:30 or 5:30 ticket holders feel like they were there, you know?

    But in my dreams, I walk the backwoods, holding my father’s hand. We watch the ducks fly and tell the future, and I can never see the stars.

    500 words
    @drmagoo Special Challenge Accepted

  10. Sleep is a marvelous thing. For when I sleep, I dream, and when I dream, I am free from this world, and my pain wracked, broken, crippled body. When I sleep, I leave this world. That night I put my head on my pillow, closed my eyes, and let go of the world that tortured me.

    There was no ground, no sky, no up or down, no left or right. Perhaps I was falling. Perhaps I was floating. Perhaps I was motionless, and the universe moved past me.

    I heard her voice in the nothing, Come back to me, my love.” I felt her fingers laced between mine, her lips on mine. “Come back to me, my love.” I opened my eyes in Terres Fae, wrapped my arms around my love, and kept her lips on mine.

    “Welcome back, my love.”

    “How long was I gone?”

    “One day.” She smiled. “Perhaps the time is near, and you will be free to stay?”

    “No one knows what tomorrow brings, my love.” I took a deep breath, feeling the warm, moist air of Terras Fae fill my lungs, relishing the lack of agony and pain.

    “Is the agony of life now gone?” She knew I was a helpless cripple from Earth’s past. knew I was from Earth. She knew I was a helpless cripple on my world.


    “Then, it’s time for us to fly.” She stepped back, spread the gold, orange and black butterfly wings on her back and with a flick them, launching herself into the sky. I followed, my blue, green and silver wings lifting me easily into the sky.

    I was free once more. Free to help my Cheris, and the fairies of Terres Fae stand against the humans from Earth in a time yet to come. Free to help save a living world from certain death.

    In my life on Terres Fae, I was free to live the story of life the universe had granted me.

    329 Words

    I know. It's not so much a work of flash fiction as the birth of a much bigger idea. :)

  11. Up In The Air

    “Sleep is a marvelous thing.” I lost the battle with my eyelids and they slid closed. “Who knew staying up two straight days could be so exhausting.” The cold metal of the truck bed pressing against my skin couldn’t even deter me from sleep. Heat wafted off of Rouen beside me; a permanent fixture this summer.

    “There’s another one coming.”

    The rumble began. A soft shaking that vibrated into my stomach, my bones, and then my heart. My eyes fluttered open as my body shook and my sleep receded. Seconds later a plane flew over us. An airliner, the biggest of the night. The air broke as the plane soared into the sky and stole my breath when the backlash hit.

    The plane left the sky empty after it passed, leaving me awake looking up at the stars.

    “Here, lift your head,” Rouen said. I did. I was used to listening to everything Rouen said now. Then again, it was easy to listen to anything in his smooth southern drawl.

    My head came down with his arm underneath me and cupped around my shoulder. Something about lying against him felt like home these days. I closed my eyes again but not to sleep, just to bask in the warmth of Rouen.

    A song wafted through the night air from the cab of the truck.

    “I love this song,” I said.

    “We need to find a happier song for you then.”

    “You can be my happier song.” I wanted to take it back the second after the words came out of my mouth. What a dope.

    Rouen laughed before kissing my forehead. Somehow the gesture didn’t leave me feeling any better. I had spent the summer of my 18th birthday trying to prove to myself and Rouen that even though he was 4 years my senior I could keep up with him. Saying something mushy was not going to help. Be chill, I reminded myself.

    It had worked thus far. There was something so exhilarating about a summer romance. The muggy Kentucky air mixed with Rouen’s debonair attitude had left this girl from Vermont swooning.


    Rouen’s voice pulled me from my thoughts.

    “Shoot,” I said in his same relaxed tone.

    “Marry me.”

    I blinked my eyes open. The butterflies in my stomach froze and then went into a spastic overdrive. “What?”

    “Dom Mallard, let’s elope. Runaway with me.”

    A sensation flooded through me leaving me slightly nauseous. Was this excitement or panic?

    “I -”

    “I thought you wanted to be more spontaneous. Here’s your chance.”

    My heart pounded against my chest and echoed in my ears.

    “Okay,” I squeaked out.

    Once my answer was given Rouen rolled over and gave me a kiss that was movie worthy. And that was apparently the end of the conversation. While I received his kisses the rumble of another airplane rolled towards us. When the plane flew above us, our mouths still interlocked, I willed my doubts of indecision to leave with it.

    499 Words
    Special Challenge Accepted


  12. Such Stuff As Dreams Are Made On...

    “Sleep is a marvellous thing.” He smiled at me and waited.

    What was that line? ‘To sleep, perchance to dream.’...
    Shakespeare was full of sleep...
    ‘Macbeth doth murder sleep’...
    Is that what I should call him, Macbeth? He didn’t look Scottish...
    What did that even mean?...

    CRASH! His hand on the table. He smiled at me and waited.

    Oh yeah, she could be mean...
    ’No, Mummy, I’m not tired.’
    ‘Go on, little man, up the wooden hill to Bedfordshire’...
    Lying in bed, stubborn and rebellious, determined to show that I could stay awake all night if I wanted to, and then...
    The nod, the shock of waking, realising that you were starting to doze, that your body was slipping out of your control...
    But it was always better in the morning light...

    Flashing, burning, right in my eyes. He’d pressed a button. He smiled at me and waited.

    I used to say I was a light sleeper. What a joke...
    Dark sleepers, that’s what we are...
    The peaceful, sheltering shadows hide us away, until tomorrow...
    Tomorrow is another day...
    Another day? Without the darkness, when does this day end?...
    The gradual, creeping light of a new day, so slow you are not sure it’s happening at all...
    The first bird of the morning chorus is the start of the day...
    Roll out of bed...

    ‘BEEN A LONG TIME SINCE I ROCK AND ROLLED. BEEN A LONG TIME SINCE I DID THE STROLL...’ He’d pressed another button. He smiled at me and waited.

    Strolling in the park on a Summer day, feed the ducks. Hold her hand... Tell her the old joke...
    ‘How deep is that water?’
    ‘How should I know?’
    ‘Well it can’t be that deep, the ducks are only up to their bums!’
    She would roll her eyes and groan, so I’d tickle her, pull her down on the grass...
    Down on the grass...
    Down on the grass...?
    Why? Are the ducks moulting? Ha, ha, ha!...

    “Ha, ha ha...”
    “Do you find this funny?” he said. He wasn’t smiling now. “Or are you trying to avoid the situation? Others have already tried pretending to be mad...”

    She was mad at me...
    ‘Let’s sleep on it’ I would say to her. I used to say that a lot towards the end...
    That and ‘Sorry’...
    ‘Sorry seems to be the hardest word’...
    Hardest? I thought the hardest word would be diamond...
    Sparkling like...

    WATER! I cough and gasp for air.
    “Just answer the questions.” His smile was back in place. “You need to think, Mister.”

    Think about things...
    ...’like a walk in the park’...
    No, not the park...
    The orange grove...
    Orange, like my jumpsuit...
    Picking the low hanging fruit...

    SMASH! My head lolled back.
    “What did you call me, you terrorist Scumbag?” His smile was gone again.
    OK, Sergeant. Take him away. And no more My Nice Guy. Stress position until he talks...

    498 words