Monday, May 11, 2015


Welcome back! A little note of clarification as well as a new addition to the rules happened this week. I'm mentioning it here just in case you're one of those people who have read the rules over and over and don't bother anymore. The 500 word limit is exclusive of title for any who were wondering. Also, we will allow you to post more than one story, but only one will be judged. Please indicate which one you want judged if you post more than one, or the first one you post will be assumed your entry. Clear as mud? Good. Go check out the prompt and have at it!

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. (Allowable alterations listed below)
2. Up to 500 words (exclusive of title)
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
8. Only one entry judged per round. If you write/post more than one story, you need to indicate which you would like judged. If you fail to indicate, it will be the first one posted.

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 Ashley Gardana. Read her winning tale from last week here! Ashley Gardana spends her time writing short fiction, poetry, fanfic and wrestling with a novel. She always loved writing, even when "forced" to apply that love to countless hours of academic papers. Then she found NaNoWriMo in 2012 and started indulging her desire to write fiction everyday. Nothing's been the same since! She currently resides in DC. Follow her @agardana09 and check out her blog on

 Your first sentence for FINISH THAT THOUGHT #2-45 is:

[I] had not felt this way for a long time, but then again it had been a while since [I had returned home].

 Your SPECIAL CHALLENGE from the judge is:

Incorporate one of the four seasons into the setting.



  1. Cold Heart, Cold Mind
    495 words
    Special Challenge Accepted

    I had not felt this way for a long time, but then again it had been a while since I’d been back. Dad had cut the topiaries into animal shapes, and covered with snow, they reminded me of the scene from “The Shining,” so I kept a safe distance, hugging the side of the hedge as I walked to the door. My heart pounded in my chest like a million drummers in a band. The snow fell around me, and I shivered as I stood there trying to build up my nerve. I felt like a little kid again, lost and alone, not to mention freezing—Florida was so nice this time of year, I wish I’d never left.

    If I stood there one more second, I might turn into an icicle, or worse yet I might freeze in one position snow-covered like the topiaries dotting Dad’s yard. I knew he needed me. My comfort. My presence, but the truth was I didn’t care about him anymore. Ever since he’d left Mom, I’d told myself he didn’t matter.

    But then Janie had called six months ago and said Grace had died. Dad had dementia. She would arrange a nurse. Even nurses needed vacations, and Janie was out of pocket this week, in Disney World with her husband and three kids. I guess she deserved a vacation too.

    I rubbed my hands together, they seemed frozen solid, and I wasn’t sure if the fist would form so I could knock on the door. The topiaries were so well trimmed. Was that part of Hanna’s job description or had Dad kept up with them, even in his confusion? Finally, I knocked.

    Hanna came to the door, wearing a white nurse’s cap, like someone out of an old-timey movie. From behind, Dad wrapped his arms around her and squeezed.

    “She’s a hottie, isn’t she?” Dad asked, as Hanna pushed his arm from her waist.

    “Bill, I’ve told you a thousand times, I’m your nurse not your wife.”

    “Where’d Grace get off to?”

    I stood in the doorway, my eyelashes nearly frozen. Winter in Michigan was hell.

    “You must be Christina. Thank God you’re here.”

    Dad scooted around Hanna and screwed up his eyeballs as his mind whirled like a hamster on a wheel, trying to locate me in a sea of frothy memories.

    “Tell my friends to come in too, Grace. They’re covered in snow,” he said, waving to the topiaries.

    “They’re better off outside, Dad,” I said as Hanna scooted out of the way, and I stepped into the warmth of the house.

    “Dad?” he asked.

    “It’s Christina, your youngest daughter,” I said.

    “I don’t have any children. Just ask Grace,” Dad said.

    “She’s dead, Dad,” I said.

    “It’s so nice to finally meet you Christina. I’m leaving in ten minutes. Let me show you where your dad’s meds are,” Hanna said.

    Dad stared at the topiaries. The only friends he had, left out in the cold.

  2. Tea and Crumpet.

    @geofflepard 439 words

    Colin had not felt this way for a long time, but then again it had been a while since he had drunk tea.

    Tea, he associated with Aunts. And Aunts with knitwear. And knitwear with cheek pinching. And Colin had a skin allergy brought on by any pressure greater than 15 kpi.

    But Rosebud (who didn't blame her parents but rather a deaf birth registrar) had a tea fetish which meant at this particular moment of high passion Colin had ingested in excess of a litre of Ceylon silvertip first pickings.

    Colin sat in bed, creaming the consequent hives and pondered this dilemma. If he continued his nascent relationship with Rosebud it would be a dermatological disaster. The pressure from her thighs alone had proved that the family's suspicions about the background of his maternal grandfather were probably correct. And while his beginner's yoga classes hadn't progressed sufficiently far for him to see for himself, he suspected a merely competent fingerprint expert could lift a perfect example of Rosebud's whorls from his right buttock.

    But these superficial passion tattoos were but a gilding of this imperfect lily. No, the real problem was the tea and in particular the intestinal infarction that imbibing had induced. Tea, it seemed was not just a memory jogger but a gut gazumper, an alimentary alienator. The tumult that was beginning to develop somewhere between pancreas and prostate had, to Colin, something of a tsunami feel to it.

    Any moment Rosebud would return for the promised 'Round Two of Rumpty-tumpty' and he knew, with the same certainty that he knew his Aunt's knitwear would never be described as the new black, that his flagrantly unfragrant fissile fusillade of flatulence would finally finish his febrile fumblings.

    Colin however was a reflective fellow and when a problem posed itself he retreated inside until a solution presented itself. Leaning back Colin reached for a post coital cigarette. He balanced his lighter on his knee while he cogitated.

    Timing in love as in life is everything. Just as Rosebud lost her grip, slippery with soap and seminal fluid, on her wine glass, Colin's pelvic resistance began to give up the struggle and he gripped the lighter tighter. A simple chemistry experiment ensued. Methane (CH4) with an auto ignition of 580C subjected to a Butane flame circa 880C will inevitably combust. Under pressure it escapes at 95 metres per second.

    When Rosebud emerged from the bathroom moments later, gloriously naked, she took in Colin's surprised expression and flaming penis and knew, at last, here was a man with the red hot passion she had been seeking all her life.

  3. Emily Clayton
    352 Words
    Special Challenge Accepted

    An Oak by Any Other Name

    I have not felt this way for a long time, but then again, it has been a while since I've returned to this place. Home. Or rather, what used to be home. Autumn colours in their prime. We danced amongst the oak tree groves, marvelled at each vibrant leaf. We wrapped the children in layered warmth. We skipped down the breezy winding lane. A happy place, once.

    Three, four, five years? Have I really been hiding that long? These memories are painful. They seep into my heart, rip out the lining, tear into the segmented chambers. Veins crumble and wither away. What is the heart's purpose without Anne Marie?

    My doctor once told me, "Andy, what happened to your wife was a tragedy. But you can't live your life in agony. You must move on."

    I stared at him, the horror on my face presenting ghastly shadows. "Move on? Move on? How can I move on when she lies in that grave?"

    He grabbed my arm, patted my callused hands. "Anne Marie is dead, Andy."

    That's where he is wrong. She's not dead. She awaits me now, resting in her underground bed, white lace and satin lining flecked with dirt, and maggots feasting on flesh. She screams in silence, agonized cries that only I can hear.

    I knock on the door of that house. Look upon my children, so grown up. They remind me of Anne Marie. Their grandparents have treated them well.

    I'm coming, Anne Marie. I'm coming.

    I wander through the backyard, through the fence that connects to the cemetery. Her grave. Freshened up. Pristine. Roses all in bloom.

    "Anne Marie, here I am. At last." She rises up, spotted and gnarled, but still my autumnal Anne Marie. I tell her about my years of travel. I describe the rich tang of the ocean, the way the sun dapples across the lazy sand, burrowing itself, each night, below the salty cresting waves.

    My children watch me from the walkway. They move closer, take my arms. Guide me, the blabbering fool, away from the oak tree with which I've been conversing.

  4. A New Winter Coat

    I had not felt this way for a long time, but then again it had been a while since I had returned home. The rats skidded about their cages. There used to be six if I remember right. Now two skinny ones and a huge fat one eyeballed me. I tried not to show my fear. My mother said it was a great weakness on my behalf that my face showed every emotion known to man. I think I was my mother’s cross to bear although she tried hard not to tell me. Her body language was her greatest weakness.

    “Want a drink? Boris asked

    He was my mother’s lodger. Came from Northern Russia although when asked he’d say “North London”

    He had a scar that ran from his left eye to the middle of his dimpled chin. If he was twenty years younger I might have given him the eye. He reminded me of a gangster in the old black and white films. He worked as a carer in the nearby old peoples home and by all accounts everyone loved him so much he was always a beneficiary in the latest will.

    “Shame about your mum”

    I nodded.

    She always said the winter would be her downfall. She loved the spring. New life pushing through the soil; lambs being born, she’d get misty-eyed at the thought of a bluebell and a crocus reduced her to tears.

    “What’s your plan?”

    “Get rid of those!” I pointed at the rats. “Let them go in the woods, see if they survive this winter without my Mum”

    She’d be out in three years. The judge gave her five but her lawyer said it was always two thirds of a sentence if you kept your head down. Boris said he would visit her as often as he could and I promised him he’d live in the house for ever. Forgot to tell him it was being re-possessed by the bank at the end of the month. Mum was never much of a career criminal she’d slipped up trying to steal the neighbour’s cats, had an idea to make herself a bit of a coat. Think she’d watched a 101 Dalmatians once too often!

  5. sorry forgot....
    369 words
    Special challenge accepted

  6. 495 words, challenge accepted. --Dave
    St. Christopher's Movable Feast
    (modified the starting sentence slightly for a protagonist who doesn't "feel" anything--never mind, you'll see).
    I hadn’t marched like this for a long time, but then again it had been a while since I ventured so far from the nest. I rechecked the straps on my backpack, again. The desperately needed supplies were still secure. Not much further to travel, but that last step is a doozy.

    Where the Market Street Bridge ends, the destruction begins. Wreckage fills the city streets, rusting cars moldering in the summer heat. Many of the cars still have their former owners inside. Skulls lean on steering wheels and empty sockets stare blindly through passenger windows. All of that hot steel is steaming to ruin in the sun. The ripples of rising thermal heat distort my optics.

    As I march north, I catch a skittering noise from an alley. My lamp illuminates about a hundred beady red eyes at two feet above ground level.

    Sprinting now, I’m shifting up and still accelerating. The morats pour out of the alley behind me, a living tidal wave breaking around and over the abandoned autos. Their claws tear at the heated asphalt and they bound after me. Each is easily as large as a border collie. Their kangaroo-like hind legs make for awesome leaps, from the ground to a car’s roof, sometimes clearing smaller vehicles entirely.

    The genetically modified little bastards appeared out of the sewers at rush hour and took the city’s gridlocked commuter population down in hours. For all of their vicious nature, they’re remarkably quiet on the hunt and bloody fast. My feet bang away at the sidewalk like a machine-gun, and my best speed is just a hair better than the swarm bounding after me.

    I bounce hard off a mailbox with a clang, and use the momentum to vault over an empty Hyundai with a parkour turn to the east. My weight leaves a handprint in the Korean-made hood.

    The spire of St. Christopher’s is only a quarter mile down the street. I risk a head check. The tsunami of morat flesh is growing steadily larger, new hungry teeth and red eyes join the hunt with every alley and sewer grating I pass.

    That gap between the crashed semis is just too narrow. Desperate, I plant my feet with a clang and make the sheer eight foot vertical leap to the roof of the cab on the right, and scramble over.

    In the church, I slam the steel shutters closed and ignore the sound of thousands of hungry morats banging against them. I have faith that my extensive modifications will keep the bastards out.

    Climbing the stairs to the bell tower, I shake out of the backpack. Close, but my cargo is secure. My mainspring will definitely need a good, long winding after that pursuit.

    “Puss puss puss.” While I pour the milk, a dozen furballs climb over my titanium feet, mewling. Big Mama climbs out of her nest and laps at her bowl with a seismic purr.

    Mokittens are just too adorable.

  7. heh, silly me, sorry

  8. Alissa, forgot q couple of weeks ago to congratulate you on your nephew's birth! I too have a 3 month old nephew and he is simply adorable! The time I sent in my story late on Wednesday was after going to visit him!