Bi-Weekly Story Prompts

Last Line Writing Prompt “Unexpected”

July 1 – July 30, 2017

This post is for stories related to the Last Line Contest “Unexpected”.

The story must end with: “Well, that didn’t end the way I expected, but at least no one important died.”

Story Requirements:

  • expensive coffee
  • a blind fold

Word Count: 1500

Length: 30 days (contest runs until July 30, 2017)

  • This is the thread for stories as well as general comments. Say hello and be sure to check the “Notify me of follow-up comments by email” box for email notifications.
  • To leave feedback/Comments directly relating to a particular story – click “reply” to the story comment.
  • Specific critiques, comments, and feedback are encouraged. If you do not want honest professional feedback do not post a story.
  • Keep feedback and critiques to a civil and constructive level, please. Please critique stories for construction, style, flow, grammar, punctuation, and so on. The moderator has the right to delete any comments that appear racist, inflammatory or bullying.

Please Note: Comments may be considered “published” in regards to other contest requirements.

All stories are fall under general copyright laws. No part may be reproduced without the express consent of the respective author.

Story Submission Rules:
  1. One story per author. You may post more than one but only the first story will qualify for voting.
  2. Stories must be in English, unpublished and your own work.
  3. Stories must fit into a single comment box and must be less than 1500 words.

Voting starts Tuesday August 1, 2017 at 9:00am PDT / 12:00pm EST / 10:30pm IST / 5:00pm WET/GMT/ 4:00am AEDT (Thursday) and ends the same time on Wednesday, August 2, 2017.

  • You may vote only once.
  • You cannot vote for yourself.

To be included in the “writing prompt roster”, you must have submitted two stories in the last sixty days. The roster is alphabetical and can be found here.

See How to Participate for complete rules and disclaimers.


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9 thoughts on “Last Line Writing Prompt “Unexpected”

  • Phil Town

    “I think he’s insane.”


    Edward pulled his friend William into a sheltered doorway on the narrow cobbled street that led up to the castle.

    “What are you trying to do?!” he hissed. “Get us both killed?”

    “I can’t help it.” William’s bottom lip was quivering. ”You know what he’s been doing to those peasants.”

    “Yes. I know and I turn a blind eye … while I still have two.”

    “I don’t know if I can do that much longer.” William broke into sobs.

    “You won’t have to, William. I have an idea I’m going to put to him later that I think will distract him long enough to forget this latest fad of his.”

    “Oh, I do hope you’re right. I mean … this Kopi … what’s it called?”

    “Kopi Luwak. Can you believe that it costs a piece of gold for just one cup?”

    William’s quivering lip dropped, leaving his mouth gaping.

    “A piece of gold?! So all those cups the peasants have been drinking …?”

    “Scores of ducats. But he’s hoping to make that money back with our own version.”

    They resumed the climb towards the castle gates.

    “Yes, our own version …” William winced. “Who gave him the idea that pigs could produce anything compa–”

    As if on cue, the two friends had to skip aside to avoid the contents of a commode, tossed from an upstairs window of one of the houses lining the street.

    “…rable to those … what’s the name of that animal?”

    “Civet. He saw it in a dream.” Edward turned to his friend and rolled his eyes.

    “Well, I hope he goes for your new idea, then. What is it?”

    “No time to explain now. Let’s step it up; we’re late.”

    The sentries waved them through the gates and they walked briskly towards the tower that loomed over the castle courtyard.


    “Now, my good fellow.”

    A large man in an exquisitely embroidered jerkin and velvet breeches, with a luxuriant fur cape over his shoulders and a heavy gold chain hanging from his neck, stood over a much older man in ragged clothes, kneeling before him with his hands tied behind his back.

    “We’re going to do a small test. And in this test, I want you to be honest with me. Can you do that?”

    “Ye-yes, Your Majesty. Of c-c-course.”

    It wasn’t cold in the dark, arched room, but the man was shaking.

    “Good chap. So, we’re going to let you try two cups of coffee, and I want you to tell us – honestly, remember – which you prefer. Is that clear?”

    The old man relaxed slightly; this test wasn’t going to be about his recent dalliances with witchcraft, then.

    “Yes, yes.”

    “But for this, the thing we’re most interested in is taste, not visual aspect, so we’re going to apply a blindfold, all right?”

    The man started shaking again but nodded weakly.

    “Excellent! Edward?”

    Edward left William’s side in one of the corners of the room and advanced to the middle holding a black velvet blindfold, which he tied firmly around the old man’s eyes before returning to the corner.


    William moved forward with a tray on which were two cups. He laid the tray on a low stool next to the old man, took one of the cups and pressed it gently against the old man’s lips, tilting it so that a brief flow of dark liquid found its way into the man’s mouth.


    The King boomed the question, making his subject jump just a little.

    “Very nice, Your Majesty.”

    “Good, good. Now the second. William?”

    As William raised the second cup in a repeat of the process, the old man’s nostrils flared. William tilted the cup, the liquid flowed … and was sprayed out immediately, followed by spitting and violent coughing.

    The King tried, with little success, to keep his question even-toned.

    “What about that one?”

    “Awful, Your Majesty. Forgive me, but it tasted like sh–“

    William kicked the old man in the ribs.

    The King stepped forward and put his left hand on the old man’s head

    “I see. I see. Well, thank you.”

    He drew a bodkin from his jerkin and jabbed it deep into each of the old man’s eyes, through the blindfold. The man let out a feeble, surprised yelp and slumped sideways onto the flagstone floor, stone dead.

    “Take him away you two, and bring me another. I shall not be satisfied until someone tells me that my coffee is as good as Kopi …”

    There was a long pause, the only sound that of water dripping somewhere. William piped up, offering the name that Edward had given him in the street.

    “Luwak, sire.”

    The King kicked the stool across the room in an explosion of fury at the morning’s frustrations and now this impertinent display of insubordination.

    “I know what it’s called, boy! Now go. Bring me another.”

    William looked imploringly over at Edward, who took a couple of steps away from the corner.

    “Sire, may I say something?”

    The King whirled round and glared at Edward, but as quickly as his anger had appeared, so it vanished.

    “Yes, certainly, Edward.”

    The young man took his time to begin; it was vital to find the right words.

    “I think this project is immensely promising, Your Majesty. Imagine the kingdom being able to produce the most prestigious coffee in the whole world. What a glorious achievement that would be!”

    The King smiled and nodded. Edward continued, as carefully as before.

    “I’ve noticed that none of the subjects today has vomited, which means that our blending options must be more acceptable than on previous days. I would call that progress.”

    The King beamed.

    “Go on.”

    “But I would like to tell you about another idea that has been the talk of sailors returning recently from distant shores.”


    “Flying pigs, sire.”

    “Flying …?”

    “Pigs. Apparently they’re all the rage in the Far East.”

    “Can pigs fly?”

    “With the right appendages, most certainly, sire.”

    “I don’t think I’ve ever …. But what use would these flying pigs be?”

    “Well, sire …” Edward had not thought about this question and stalled. “As … as … children’s toys, initially! Especially piglets, and with Christmas coming, they would be very popular. But subsequently, who knows? Er … weapons?”

    The King stroked his full beard, then beamed a smile again.

    “I like it. We’ll start right away. The pigs we’ve been using for the coffee … do you think they can be adapted?”

    “We’ll need to test them, sire, but I’m sure they can, yes.”

    “Just think: the best flying pigs in the world!”

    The King moved to the tower window and looked out over his kingdom, imagining the glory and prestige to come. Behind him, Edward and William put their heads together and whispered.

    “That’s your idea?!”

    “Do you have a better one?”

    “Well … no. But flying pigs?! What’s going to happen when he finds out it’s impossible?”

    “Don’t worry. In a couple of weeks we’ll just suggest some other mad idea and he’ll go along with it. Meanwhile, I think I’d rather see pigs with wings tied to their backs being pushed off the tower than watch another poor peasant … you know.”

    “I suppose you’re right, Edw–ait, here he comes.”

    The King had turned from the window and approached them now.

    “Come on, then. Let’s go to the sties and choose the first … guinea PIGS! Ha ha!”

    The two friends forced laughs to accompany the King’s and all three left the room, emerging into a larger one, piled with the corpses of scores of peasants.

    As they picked their way between the piles, the King noticed the two friends looking at the bodies, holding their noses and shaking their heads..

    “You know, I really am disappointed with the other project. I wanted so much to have the most prestigious coffee in the world. Well, that didn’t end the way I expected, but at least no one important died.”


    • Christopher Smith
      Great story, Phil…I really enjoyed it! I was interested to see how you would fit all of the elements into the story, and you did it well…nicely done!
  • This story sounds suspiciously medieval. Like, say, around the 5th or 6th century. Back in the good old days when peasants were expendable and Kings were above the law. I’m working on my own story Philip, I can’t let you abscond with the coffee without a fight. Besides, you don’t need it. You’re English. You drink tea. Everybody knows that.
  • Phil Town
    You’re going to submit a story, Kenneth?! Dammit! I thought the coffee was in the bag after a no-show from everyone else!
    • Carrie Zylka

      I thought for sure the lure of over priced coffee would garner some attention……. apparently not!!!

      • Christopher Smith
        I will be posting one shortly! The rough draft is done…I only need to sleep on it, clean it up in the morning, and post it.
  • The Big Cheese.
    by ken cartisano © 2017

    I was the recipient of some bad news. It came in a phone call. “Romano’s got a message for ya. You can pick it up in the alley between 8th and 9th on Colonial.”

    “Who the hell is this? What message?”

    Click. The call ended. I got the boys together and we piled into the car. I let Monk, my bodyguard, do the driving. Sonny the Slug, and Mickie the Mouse rode in the back seat. “Where we going, boss?”

    I told them. Monk pulled over a half a block from the alley. “Mickie,” I said. “Go into the alley, and look for a message.”

    A look of confusion contorted his rat-like puss. “Like what kind of message, boss?”

    “I don’t know, Mickie. They said we’d know it when we saw it.”

    Mickie hesitated. “Maybe you’d know what it looks like, boss. Me? I’m not—.”

    “Mickie! Get out of the car, and go look in that alley. If it doesn’t explode or look like a bomb, you may bring it back to the car.”

    He got out grumbling and disappeared into the alley. He came out with a nervous looking guy, and led him back to the car.

    “Who are you?” I asked.

    “Toby,” he said. “I got a message for ya.”

    “A message from who?”

    “Your new boss,” he said.

    Before I could stop him Mickie cuffed him on the back of his head. “Mickie!” I hollered. “What’re you doing?”

    The stranger, Toby, looked indignant. “I was told you were a reasonable man, Mr. Black.”

    “I am,” I said. “Get in the car.”

    Mickie opened the door and pushed him in, then got in next to him.

    “Put a blindfold on ‘im.”

    We didn’t have any blindfolds, so Sonny ripped the sleeve off of Mickie’s shirt and used that to cover Toby’s eyes.

    “You drink?” I asked him.

    “If you’re offering, I could use a cup of coffee.”

    We pulled up to the drive-thru window in the old black Caddy. Monk, the driver, rolled down his window. I was on the passenger side up front, Sonny and Mickie were in the back seat, blindfolded Toby sitting between them. Classical music played softly from the rear speakers.

    “Can I take your order?”

    I was sitting sideways on the front seat. “What d’ya want Toby?”

    He says, “Give me a Venti Mocha Cookie Frappuccino with vanilla syrup, two shots of espresso, a dash of matcha powder and a little cinnamon on top.”

    Sonny says, “What, no cream and sugar?”

    The girl at the take out window dutifully writes all of this down. She took no notice of the fact that her customer appeared to be wearing a blindfold, but looked at me and Monk expectantly.

    “What?” I said, leaning towards the driver’s side window.

    “Will there be anything else?”

    I looked at my crew. “Anyone else?”

    Nobody said anything, least of all my driver and bodyguard, Monk. Despite being in the driver’s seat, he said nothing. “No ma’am.” I said. “Just that one coffee.” I retreated to my side of the front seat.

    We sat in the car, listening to Vivaldi. I rolled up my window and fiddled with the air conditioner.

    The coffee lady returned with a giant steaming cup of java, and said, “That’ll be eighteen dollars and forty five cents.”

    Nobody moved. We were in shock. I leaned over towards the window. “Did you say eighteen dollars?”

    “And forty five cents, please.” She was so cheerful, I almost didn’t mind getting screwed.

    “Are you sure that’s correct?” I asked politely.

    “Oh yes,” she said, beaming with positive energy. “It’s the syrup and the espresso’s,” she whispered confidentially.

    “Oh yeah,” I said, as if I’d simply forgotten how expensive coffee was. “Eighteen forty five.”

    “Go ahead and pay her, Monk,” I said. Monk shook his head. He never has any money. “How come you never have any money, Monk?”

    “I pay for the gas,” he said. I was amazed that he spoke.

    I frowned and turned to the occupants of the back seat. Mickie was looking out the window with a determined effort to pretend he couldn’t hear me, and Sonny the Slug was looking mean. “Sonny,” I said, “you got a twenty on ya’.”

    For a minute, I thought he was gonna give me an argument. Then he looked at the guy with the blindfold on as if he was going to slug him. (That’s why we call him ‘The Slug.’ He likes to hit people. He doesn’t even need a reason.) I gave him a serious ‘don’t do it’ look, and he reached into his pocket and pulled out a wad of hundreds. He peeled one off the top with as much zeal as if he were disrobing my great-great-grandmother. I handed it to Monk, who passed it to the girl in the window.

    She looked at the bill distastefully. “Do you have anything smaller?”

    Sonny growled. “If I had anything smaller…”

    “Calm down, Sonny.” I leaned over toward the window. “That’s all we got, sweetheart.”

    “Oh,” she said. “Okay.” She disappeared for another three minutes, then returned with Sonny’s change, and passed the coffee-extravaganza to Monk, who passed it to me, and I passed it over the back seat to Mickie, who carefully handed it to Toby. All of this without spilling it as Monk sped off.

    We led Toby into our hangout, the back room of Peet’s Pool Parlor, sat him down and pulled the blindfold off.

    “So,” I said. “What’s the message, Toby?”

    “There’s a new player in town, he’s got a lotta muscle and he’s looking to take over your operations.”

    Sonny said, “Can I hit him?”

    Toby was unflustered. “You kill me and your loved ones won’t see another sunset.”

    Sonny leaned towards Toby and I had to intervene. “He’s just the messenger, Sonny.”

    “I don’t like the message, or the messenger.”

    I poked Toby with a pool cue. “What else?”

    “He says you can keep your operations, but you gotta pay him a percentage.”

    “How much?”

    “Twenty-five percent.”

    I whistled, Mickie cursed and Sonny banged the table with his fist. Monk, as usual, said nothing.

    Mickie went off first. “Who is this scumbag? Where’d he come from? Who does he think he is?”

    All good questions. I folded my hands together. “Well?”

    He’s from Chicago, he’s expanding his territory, and you’re in it.”


    “You want a name?”

    “Of course.”

    “Romano. Tony Romano.”

    “Like the cheese?”

    Oddly, this of all things seemed to bother Toby. “Cheese?”

    “Yeah,” I said. “Romano cheese? It’s Italian. You put it on spaghetti, or a salad, or a potato. You never heard of it?”

    Toby’s irritation increased.

    “Come on,” I said. “You got an Italian boss and you don’t know anything about cheese? Ain’t that funny. Was his family in the cheese business?”

    Toby remained silent: His eyes cold and malevolent. I wasn’t making fun of his boss. I was just making conversation, but somehow, my idle chatter seemed to be getting on his nerves.

    He stood up. “Can I go now? I think we can dispense with the blindfold, since I know where I am.”

    I tapped him with the pool cue again and gestured at the chair. “Siddown—Relax. What’s your hurry?”

    He sat.

    “You know what I think?” I said. “I think you’re Tony Romano.”

    “Then you ain’t half as bright as you look—and you don’t look that bright to begin with.”
    He was cool and calm again.

    My boys were entranced, like they were watching a tennis match. “You got a lot of attitude for a messenger boy, Toby.” His smile vanished. “Maybe we could squeeze a little of that attitude out of you Toby, the high-classed messenger boy.”

    I turned to Mickie and Slug, “We got a messenger boy who drinks twenty dollar coffees, eh boys? This is a messenger boy with expensive tastes.”

    Slug’s nose twitched. “Maybe the hotshot messenger boy could reimburse me for his coffee then. Since he’s got so much class.”

    “You know what I noticed while you were drinking that coffee, Toby? I noticed your hands. And I thought, those hands and nails have been manicured: Buffed, polished and pampered. Those ain’t the fingernails of a messenger boy. Those are the hands of Mr. Romano.”

    We were all smiling now. Me, Monk, Slug and Mickie. All but Mr. Romano, he wasn’t looking too happy. He said, “Don’t be stupid. You kill me, my boys’ll even the score, and then some.”

    “Yeah but, see, here’s the thing Mr. Romano. You are Mr. Romano right?”

    He nodded.

    My phone rang and I answered it. “Speaking.” Pause. “Yeah, we’ve got him. Hold on.” I addressed Mr. Romano. “You remember calling me Mr. Black? Well, I’m not Mr. Black.” I wiggled the phone. “This is.”

    Well (I admit), that didn’t end the way I expected, but at least no one important died.

  • Christopher Smith
    Great job, Ken! A fantastic back-and-forth between all of the characters. I wasn’t sure where this one was going, and liked the direction you took and the finish.
  • Christopher Smith
    The Boy in the Room (1,470 words)
    Written by Christopher Smith
    © 2017

    She sat in an office chair at a long metal desk in a cramped second-floor observation room, studying the boy in the blue gown on the other side of the glass. On his side—in the room within a room, the test room—he saw a mirror, although she doubted it fooled any of the children anymore, if it ever had.

    On the desk in front of her were her clipboard, three freshly sharpened pencils, a wireless microphone perched upon a small stand, a digital timer, and a digital audio recorder, which she rarely used. The clipboard’s first page was empty, waiting, just like she was. She liked to observe first, record later. The four cameras, one hidden on each wall of the test room, would document whatever she missed, the footage completing her notes, filling in the blanks.

    It was going on three quiet minutes when the boy finally asked if there was anything he should be doing. She said nothing and waited. When he asked the question a second time, she shifted her coffee from her right hand to her left, leaned forward, depressed the button at the microphone’s base, and answered: “Whatever you feel like, Samuel,” and then sat back and watched.

    He nodded, a clean and neat gesture, and then went to the shelves to the left of the door. He plucked a puzzle from the pile of them: Captain America, arms crossed and standing in front of a large and flapping Old Glory. She made a note. Samuel proceeded to the circular table in the centre of the room and emptied the box’s contents upon it, took a seat. Before he began to right the pieces, she reminded him: “The blindfold, Samuel.” He reached into his shirt pocket and pulled it out—a thick black strip of fabric—and wrapped and tied it himself. Once his hands began plucking at the puzzle pieces, she began the timer.

    The outer door to the observation room opened and Oscar slid in, closing the door behind him. He approached the table and said: “You’ll need to pick up your things before Friday. I’ve boxed them—there wasn’t much—but it’s all there and accounted fo—” She gave him a piercing glance. Then, in an attempt to change the subject, he said: “I can’t believe you drink that shit.” He pointed to her coffee, his smirk awkward, forced. “What did that run you, eleven ninety-five?”

    She returned her attention to the boy in the room, leaned forward. Samuel’s progression was impressive.

    “Jesus, Moira,” Oscar sighed.

    She hushed him (he winced) and leaned in closer still.

    “By Friday,” he said, as if that ended it.

    She thought about this, and then asked: “Is there someone else already?” She was joking, half smiling. When he didn’t answer she glanced at him, her smile failing. “You’re an asshole. It’s been a week and a half.”

    “Moira, I—”

    “Shut it,” she said, firm because now Samuel was nearly finished. And for a wonder Oscar did shut it. He slipped his hands into the pockets of his lab coat and turned his focus on the kid.

    “Three minutes, five-point-three-nine seconds,” Moira said, after touching the timer’s PAUSE button.

    “Holy shit.”

    And just like that, relationship therapy was over. They were scientists first and knew what they had signed up for, how important their work was.

    The current world record for a child was thirteen minutes and seven seconds on a 250-piece puzzle. Samuel had just assembled 500 pieces in just over three minutes, did it without sight.

    “Holy shit, indeed,” Moira said, and began jotting notes. “Incredible,” she whispered.

    “How the fuck do they do this stuff?”

    “That’s what we’re trying to find o—”

    The alarm was deafening, a steady waaa, waaa that echoed in the room. Samuel leapt and pressed his hands to his ears. The lighting flickered once, again, and then cut out entirely. Moira heard a muffled cry from out on the main floor. The emergency lights came on, and the three of them—Oscar, Moira, and Samuel—were painted in various shades of red.

    “Code: Breech,” a mechanical voice advised from the overhead speakers, the alarm softening slightly to allow the message to be heard. “All security personnel are ordered to the second floor, Maximum Wing. Repeat: All security personnel to the second floor, Maximum Wing.” For another few seconds the alarm blared and echoed around them, and then blessedly it cut, mid shriek.

    Moira took the opportunity to calm Samuel as best as she could. She depressed the button on the microphone and advised him to sit tight (although all doors to the test rooms would have bolted automatically, and Samuel had no other option but to sit tight), that things would all be under control shortly.

    “Probably a fucking intern,” Oscar offered, approaching the door. Through its six-inch by six-inch window he saw a group of three guards scamper by. “They’re always forgetting to properly seal one door before opening the next. Dangerous, is what it is.”

    Moira didn’t argue and simply followed him to the door, which he had pulled open. She glanced back toward Samuel, who had once again taken his seat at the table. He was admiring his work, and that settled Moira a little.

    She pushed past Oscar and into the hall. It was a little brighter here, on account of the line of windows at the far end of the floor’s main room, but the dome lights lined in clean rows on the ceiling were still lit. To the left—the direction the guards had headed—there was a closed door. To the right, the hall was beginning to fill with employees filing in from the large room it led to.

    Oscar raised his palms to the ceiling and furrowed his brow, was about to ask Linda (the lab tech at the head of the crowd in the hall) what in the sweet hell was going on, when there was a frenzy of gunshots behind him. The door at the end of the hall burst inward, and a guard (Moira thought it was Andy but couldn’t be sure) fell through it and onto the floor. The front of his white, short-sleeved shirt was now a crimson red. A similar colour painted his face. His black tie—flipped up, covering his nose and one eye, part of his forehead—seemed somehow darker.

    A series of screams—from high and shrill to deep and feral—lit the long hall, and immediately those in it began to scramble and push away from the dead security guard. Oscar actually took a few steps toward Andy, who was clearly dead and in no need of assistance. Then, as if realizing what he was doing, he began to retreat with the rest of them.

    And that was when the man with the short gun and the crazed look upon his face appeared in the far doorway and stepped over Andy without so much as a glance. Behind him, a blur of children, all dressed in experimental blue gowns, ran past the doorway, from left to right, toward the stairs and the elevators. Oscar hadn’t realized anything, Moira now understood; he had simply seen the gunman before she had. In one clean motion, the man with the gun lowered it slightly and fired from his waist, never so much as slowing. The bullets weren’t fired so much as spat from the gun’s barrel, a feverish whisper-cough that caught Oscar in the back and shoved him forward. Moira retreated into the observation room, shut the door, and moved the short distance to the table. She hadn’t thought to push something in front of the door, but there wouldn’t have been time even if she had.

    She heard another spray of gunshots, close and somehow liquid, and hoped against all reason it wasn’t the last thing Oscar heard.

    The door burst inward, and there he stood, all gun and heaps of crazy. His eyes blazed with madness. His chest heaved with his hurried breath. He licked his lips and then smiled, and then trained the gun on Moira.

    Three cracks from his left dropped him into the observation room. When he landed on his side, the gun slid from his grip and closer to Moira. She backed away, flattened herself against the far wall. Another guard appeared in the doorway, his handgun aimed at the man on the floor, who was bleeding from an exit wound in his stomach, and two more in his chest. Blood ran from his mouth.

    “The children…” he whispered, and then trailed off. He glanced up at Moira, a distant and glossy gape, and gave her a weak smile. “Well, that didn’t end the way I expected, but at least no one important died.”

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