Bi-Weekly Story Prompts

September 14 – 27, 2023 Writing Prompt “Taking the wrong path”

Theme: Taking the wrong path.

It can be realistic, supernatural, spiritual, absurdist … whatever you like. No other restrictions.

Required Elements:

  • none

Word Count: 1200

Next Prompt to be chosen by Marien Oommen.

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13 thoughts on “September 14 – 27, 2023 Writing Prompt “Taking the wrong path”

  • Carrie Zylka

    Read the stories here:

    (If you don’t see your story linked in this comment within a day or two, feel free to use the contact form to let Carrie know she somehow missed it.

    Meanwhile, please be patient, there is only one moderator, and she is not always online. We’ll get to it as soon as possible. Thank you.)

  • Adrienne Riggs
    Signing in.
  • Here is my effort. I hope you like it. (UK English spelling and punctuation).

    Slim or No Chance

    ‘We are running out of time,’ said Stu. He upped the pace of his jog. His snub nose pistol was working its way loose in his waistband.

    ‘Relax, we’ve got ages,’ answered Alex. ‘Watch you don’t drop the shooter.’

    Stu grabbed for his weapon as it cartwheeled towards the runway. The blast stunted Stu; it killed Alex. Stu collapsed next to his friend. He tried and failed to shake life back into him. The hole in the front of his face was not for talking or eating. The hole at the back of his head was more extensive and splintered the skull. Stu wanted to cry. Brutal men don’t cry. He ran.

    Two men jumped down the plane’s stairs.

    ‘Who the hell is that?’ said the man, wearing a blazer and cap.

    ‘Never mind ‘im. What happened? He didn’t off himself, or the gun would be here. Who did it, and where is he?’. His icy grey eyes scanned the shrub line bordering the runway. Tall grass flexed.

    ‘Clean that up,’ he said, pointing to the body as he sprinted towards a patch of trampled grass.

    The pilot scratched his head. His passengers would not be willing to help him. Likewise, they wouldn’t want a body on the flight. There was nobody at the small airfield. He went to the hangar and fetched a trolley.

    ‘Butch, what the hell is going on?’

    ‘That is what I’m trying to discover, Mr Jacobi.’ He clicked off the mobile as he stooped under branches.

    Broken twigs cracked as he moved on. Stu watched every move.

    ‘Come out,’ Butch said. He didn’t need to shout. Stu was nearby. He ducked missing tree overhangs and stubby clumps of greenery. Butch bowled ahead, not noticing the facial scratches. The gun cracked; he heard that. Stu stumbled forward, moving leaves aside to check on his accuracy. Butch had crumpled.

    The pilot hastened, pulling Alex onto the hanger’s trolley. He moved ahead; the plane stood between him and the tree line. ‘Now what?’

    There was no sign of the men who entered the shrubs. The pilot rushed up the steps.

    ‘What is going on?’ he asked those sitting inside.

    ‘Butch must be dead. We had better go. Be quick.’

    ‘What about the body?’

    ‘Christ, I don’t know. Dump it in the hanger. And get a move on.’

    The pilot rolled the body off the trolly under the plane’s tail end. He chucked his blazer and hat after it. He pushed the empty trolley through the hanger doors and waited.

    Stu rounded the plane from the rear. He clipped a hooked wire to Alex’s clothing and attached it to the plane’s landing gear. He hastened into the cockpit wearing the pilot’s jacket and cap.

    ‘About bloody time,’ was shouted from the rear.

    Stu needed to familiarise himself with the controls. It had been a while.

    ‘What are you waiting for? Let’s go.’

    The engine fired, and the craft rolled forward. Its speed increased and took off. The discussion became heated between father and daughter behind Stu.

    ‘Sonya, I told you to leave that useless son of a b…’

    Stu left his seat, stood and turned to face his passengers.

    ‘I take it you are talking about me?’

    ‘Oh, Stu,’ she said.

    ‘What the f…’ Her father couldn’t finish his sentence as a bullet buried between his eyes.

    Sonya was more worried about the blood splashing her new Chanel frock.

    ‘Stu, thank God. You have saved me from him and his domineering rules and monster mates. Now we can be together.’

    ‘Yeah, right? I wanted to spend my life with you. Until I found out about Alex, it was time we went different ways.’

    She looked surprised for a moment. ‘Stu, darling, we can be together forever.’

    Stu turned and checked the controls as he stretched below the co-pilot’s seat and pulled out a parachute. He noticed the coastline was below. He shrugged on the backpack.

    ‘What are you doing?’

    ‘You said you wanted to spend the rest of your life with me?’

    ‘Yes, yes, I do, I will.’

    Stu chuckled, ‘Well, that won’t be long.’ He checked his watch and pulled out the pistol again. ‘The ex-pilot is phoning the police, saying someone has stolen his plane—a young man with his girlfriend. By the way, your lover, Alex, is strapped under us. When the plane hits the water, he will come loose.’

    ‘Why? What are you talking about?’

    ‘I loved you. But I also enjoyed learning the tricks of your father’s trade and even juggling a shooter. It’s a pity you didn’t see the simple circus trick I learned to shoot Alex. I was proud of that.’ He smiled.

    Sonya fought with her seat belt. Stu raised the pistol once more. Fake tears dripped from Sonya’s chin.

    ‘I’ll do anything for you,’ she said, ‘Now dad is dead, we can enjoy his money travel the world.’

    ‘That reminds me, I need you to sign this.’

    ‘What is it?’

    ‘It’s your will, dated last week. You have willed everything to me after you get the same from dear daddy.’

    A bullet entered her thigh.

    ‘Sign it.’

    She screamed in agony, clutching the leaking flesh.

    ‘The next one hurts more.’ He pressed the barrel to the other leg.

    She scratched her name on the last will and testimony.

    Stu unclipped her seat belt, knowing the pain in her leg wouldn’t allow her to put up a fight. But she would try to get to the controls.

    ‘Oh, this is for you.’ He handed her the snub. She snatched it, aimed and fired.

    Click, click. Empty.

    He opened the pilot’s door and jumped. The plane flew on over the channel’s choppy waves until it would run out of fuel.

    The pilot’s sister cruised her tiny fishing boat to pick up Stu. Her brother was answering police questions. ‘Yes, officer, they took off without me. I do not know what they were thinking of. My boss, his daughter and her boyfriend.’

    The trio enjoyed a celebratory meal. The wills would take some time to be accepted. ‘No rush,’ they all agreed. The second bottle of red was ordered. The waitress smiled as the restaurant door opened. A well-dressed young lady limped towards their table. ‘Shall I fetch a chair?’

    All smiles faded as she pulled a snub-nosed pistol. ‘Remember this? It has bullets this time.’

    The waitress ran for cover. Three diners slumped forward and looked closer at their cheese and biscuits.

    The END

    • Colin, I’m not familiar with your work. At any rate, welcome to the site. First, outside of putting two pounds of story in a one-pound sack, I don’t have any real quibbles with your writing grammatically, or punctuation-wise at this point. There’s just too much action and what I call one-line inserts to explain holes that it looked like you went back and plugged. I also think this may have been written much longer and then edited to whittle it down to fit the requirements of 1200 words.

      However, having said all that, I did enjoy the story itself, but it needs some real fillers. For example, it’s a reach to expect her to sign everything away, although you left a loophole by allowing her to have the skills to land the plane. If that’s the case, why didn’t she just sign the will without getting shot?

      There’s just so much unexplained stuff, but I really don’t want to dissect your story.

      The best thing I liked about your story was the very last line. Loved it. I hope to see more from you in the future.

      Roy York

    • Carrie Zylka

      Colin! Welcome back – it’s been a few years!
      Glad to see your submission.

  • Robt. Emmett
    Amnicon Falls
    By Robt. Emmett

    As I drove towards the Stateline, I wondered what I had done to her to deserve the screwing-over she’d laid on me.
    Passing a flock of newborn lambs, I noticed a very new black one. Naming it Sandra would be an excellent choice for the farmer, as it has wobbly legs just like hers. What was my takeaway from her half-assed attempt at sexually assaulting me? She regurgitated all over my shoes, pants, and new jacket. I wished she’da just planked her drunken ass on a chair rather than sneaking more liquor. Oh no, she had to have the booze. “Okay, she’s not happening because I don’t need her crap in my life. We’re through, Sandra dearest, finished and goodbye!” I said aloud.

    As I turned into Jay Cooke State Park, the cloudy sky transformed into a dense mist and the weather deteriorated. I halted and raised the top of the convertible. At Oliver Bridge, lightning flashed, and it seemed as if I was driving under a waterfall.

    The rain stopped by the time I entered the Hammond Avenue Tavern on 5th Street. The Wurlitzer 1015 ate a dozen quarters, and I began randomly punching buttons. Finished choosing the songs, I sat at the end of the bar overlooking the street to watch the people passing by the front window. They were in a hurry to go somewhere, do something. I could, should, be going somewhere, doing something.
    “Whisky sour, small glass, one cube.” He eyed me. He was toying with the thought of checking my ID. He shrugged, mixed my drink, served it, and returned to stacking glasses on the clean white bar towel.
    I almost missed her, but, fortunately, I looked up in time. Warm brown ringlets surrounded her oval face. Her semi-opened trench coat offered a glimpse of a deep green, front-buttoned sweater, and a tight black skirt. She stopped by the Ivory Lady, my ‘53 Ford rag-top. It was spitting rain again.
    Sliding from the barstool, “I’ll be back.” I said to the bartender.
    “Sure thing, kid.”
    I stopped short of her. “Do you like her?”
    She frowned. “Your car?” I nodded. “It’s nice, even has a name, neat.”
    “I think so.” Her sweater matched her green eyes. She reminded me of Rita Hayworth. “Buy ya drink?” She hesitated. “Sure. Sure, why not.”
    She slid onto the stool next to mine. “Southern Manhattan, hold the cherry.”
    “You don’t like cherries?” I asked.
    Smirking, “Cherries, who needs one? They are overrated if you catch my drift.”
    We chatted. I bought her another, and she asked, “What year are you?”
    “I’m a senior, or will be, this fall.”
    “Me too. You must lead a clean life,” she said, studying my face. “You don’t look that old.”
    “Are you going to school this summer?”
    “Sorta. I teach swimming at Teachers College. It’ll help me with my major, sports medicine.”
    Major? We chatted the afternoon away. The after-supper crowd was slowly filling the bar, the streetlights were on; the rain had let up. “Want another?”
    “Fives my limit,” she giggled loudly.
    I’d had what, two? No, I had three.
    “Do you want something to eat?” I asked.
    “Les go fo’a ride,” she slurred. “In the car witha name, okey dokey?”
    I held the driver’s door. “By the way, my name’s Robin. What’s yours? And where too?”
    Her smile revealed nice teeth. “Anywheres you want, Rob. Name’s Barbara,” she burped, “but I go by Bar.”
    “Okay, Bar. Are you from around here?”
    “Nah, I teach an don’t want anyone to see me booz’n. So, I cross ova the state line and do ma drinking here.” I waited, but she didn’t continue.
    “I live over the High Bridge too. I wanted to be alone. Bad weekend. Amnicon Falls, okay? It’s twenty minutes.” I turned on the wipers as the light rain started.
    She put her hand on my knee. “Still wanna be alone?”
    I didn’t answer her.
    “Go for it. I never been to Amnicon Falls. I’m game.” She giggled, slid closer, and rested her head on my shoulder.
    I stopped in the deserted parking lot overlooking the Upper Falls. Our kissing started gently. I came up for air and tried not to listen to the blood pounding in my ears. I wasn’t cold, but I shivered. “Crank down your window. It’s foggy in here.” I said, lowering my window.
    She turned to me and by the light of the radio’s dial, I noticed her sweater was off and she was reaching behind her with both hands. Suddenly, a blinding beam of light exploded in my face and stunned me. The flashlight scanned the interior of my car. “Let’s see some ID.” The light also illuminated his gun. “This place is closed at sunset.”
    Bar turned and quickly tried to button up her sweater as I dug out my driver’s license and handed it to the park ranger.
    “Here,” he handed my license back. “Next time you get horny, do your necking on your side of the state, not in my park. Got it, Stud?” Turning to her, “Can I see some ID, miss?”
    She leaned against me and handed him her college ID card.
    He walked around the car to her window. “I want something with a birth date.”
    She dug in her small purse and handed the ranger her driver’s license.
    He looked at it, then at her, and opened the door. Menacingly, “Step out miss.” She cast a questioning glance at me, slid over and out the door. They walked to the rear of my car. I couldn’t make out his words, but his tone was threatening. She returned and slumped into her side of the car seat. He slammed the door shut, “I want the two a you outta my park and outta my state. Now!”
    Barbara said nothing on the ride to the Hammond Avenue Tavern. She just sat gazing straight ahead. I attempted to talk to her, but she stared into the night and ignored me.
    At the Hammond parking lot, “The red Ford’s mine.”
    I thought she was about to get out. Instead, she leaned toward me, “You bastard.”
    I never saw it coming, but I felt her slap down to my toes.
    “You son-of-a-bitch. Do you think I want to spend the next five to ten years at Taycheedah?”
    Too late, I saw her hand move, her fingernails raked my cheek and nose.
    I grabbed her wrist as her nails tried for a hat trick on my face.
    “If that park ranger had been a state cop or a county-mounty, that’s where my ass would be!”
    “What the hell are you talking about?”
    “Dip-shit, we’d both been drinking. I was half undressed, and the ranger thought I’d brought you across the state line for sex. It’s called white slavery, and it’s five to ten at the women’s prison, asshole. I wish he’da run your ass in.” She fumbled with her undone sweater buttons. “You’re a sixteen-year-old high school senior. I’m a twenty-one-year-old college senior. Do the math, Dip-shit and turn your eyes away.”
    “The hell with yeah.” She redid her sweater buttons, got out, slammed the door, and gave me the finger.
    — Ԙ —

    • Rob,

      Read it twice, and liked it both times, even better the second time around. Maybe, perhaps, probably, it’s the best story you’ve ever written for this site, in my humble opinion. Good job. Liked the way you snuck in the fact he said he’s a senior, and dragged us all into thinking he meant college. Well, he wanted her to think that, but I thought it, too. As I said, I like the story.

      For a hot minute, I thought she recovered from her drunken state too quickly, but then thought, nope, I’ve been there. A run in with the cops and your ass on the line can do more for sobering someone up than a pot of coffee. Nice touch, when I thought about it, although for less discerning souls you might want to add a line that covers that.

      Ummm, you don’t have to answer this, but is this an incident from real life? Yours, perhaps?


    • Carrie Zylka

      BAHAHAHAHA Robt please tell me this amusing tale is real life. I know Amnicon Falls is very close to where you live!!

      Side note, I’ll wave as I drive by you on Sunday. I’m heading to Bemidji for an outdoor writer’s conference, I’ll be the one pulling the boat all the way from Milwaukee named “Queen Carrie’s Revenge”!!

      • Robt. Emmett
        Ladies first.

        Carrie, Moi? You confuse me with some tall dark swave and debunet dude from your reality.

        ‘Sides, back in the day I didn’t kiss and tell, cuz, sigh, there’s usually nothing to tell.

        The story was longer and more detailed concerning the breakup with Sandra. It was the transition story into Robin Beniôt’s new phase … college. Guess which Phy Ed course he takes? Gymnastics!

         Bar and he cross paths once more at a Frat rush. He was having a dreadful night. The cute young English major from Bemidji. Bemidji requires lots of English teachers, since English is their second language. The other frat didn’t want him when he asked, “Why would I join a group that accepts someone like me?” His bad luck continues at the Pepsi machine, no cup, and the drain drink his beverage. To ensure he gets his money’s worth from his last dime, he holds onto the cup. His new gray slacks get stained with Pepsi because of a punch to his right kidney. Guess who?   

        I lived in Duluth for my first quarter-century and then, ultimately, landed 360 miles south of there. When going though Duluth, DO NOT mention that fact to the local constabulary. Okay?

        Roy, “… is this an incident from real life? Yours, perhaps?” no and NO.
        Thanks for the encouragement.
        Where’s your story?

  • RM York
    Working toward getting a story in.


  • John Filby
    I’ll try for a story this time. Fingers crossed something amazing comes to the paper.
  • Phil Town

    Once the children were settled, the old man with the long beard began.

    “Listen to this lesson in life, me lovelies.”

    He scanned the young faces, his gaze alighting on a blond-haired boy on the edge of the semi-circle; his speech was, in truth, going to be aimed mainly at him.

    “There are two kinds of people in this world: the good … and us. The good go out to work every day, six days a week, and work work work. They work in offices. They work on the trains. They work in shops. They work sweeping the streets. They work sweeping chimneys…”

    Here he addressed a boy in the middle, slightly older than the rest.

    “Ain’t that right, me lovely?”

    The boy grinned and nodded.

    “The reason these folk work is to put bread on the table. And that’s all what most of ‘em can afford – a bit of bread, maybe some cheese now and then, an egg or two if they’re lucky. They grow up, get married, have sprogs – just like you – and them sprogs … well, they grow up and get a job, and they work work work, just to put bread on the table … and that’s all what most of them can afford.”

    While he was speaking, a large man with a grimy face and several days’ stubble moved along the row of children with a basket and handed them each a hunk of bread and a slice of pork. The children grabbed the food and stuffed it into their mouths as quickly as they could, still keeping their eyes on the old man.

    “These folk, well, you see, they’re good because they follow the laws of the land, what are handed down from our betters up the road in that big building by the river. Anyone know what that building’s called?”

    “Big Ben,” one boy shouted out.

    “You’re warm, Benny me boy, but Big Ben’s a bell, in fact, what’s up that tower and what we hear every hour, on the hour. What’s the name of that building next to it, though? Anyone?”

    The blond-haired boy put up his hand. The old man smiled through his beard at the boy’s politeness.

    “Go on, me lovely.”

    The little boy’s voice was thin and trembling.

    “The Houses of Parliament, sir.”

    The old man clapped, dust rising from the filthy, fingerless gloves he wore.

    “That is precisely right and correct. See boys,” he said, seeking eye contact with the others in the semi-circle. “That’s what you call being in the know.”

    He stepped over and ruffled the blond boy’s matted hair, then returned to where he could be the focus of the group.

    “Our betters sit in that building and talk a lot. That’s their job. Talk talk talk. And after all the talking’s done, what they come up with is laws. And them laws are what the good folk follow.”

    “What kind of laws?” the older boy piped up.

    The old man went over now and ruffled that boy’s hair.

    “Good question, me lovely. The kind of laws what keep us all toeing the line. Like you mustn’t kill people. And you mustn’t steal…”

    All except the blond boy, sniggered.

    “And you must pay your taxes.”

    “What’s them?” the older boy asked, emboldened by the success of his previous question.

    “Taxes is…” the old man began, then pointed to the blond boy. “Let’s ask me lovely here, what’s in the know.”

    The group turned to the blond boy, waiting. That thin voice again:

    “There are different kinds of taxes, but one of them is called income tax. That’s where the government takes a bit of the wages you earn to–”

    “And there you have it,” the old man interrupted. “Our little chum in the know has put his very delicate finger on the nub. Them men in the Houses of Parliament, what make the laws, break ‘em themselves! They steal from the folk what work! Every week they stick their perfumed fingers in the working man’s pocket and lift out a great big lump of his wages, what he’s earned with his sweat. Now I ask you…”

    He wasn’t asking anything but paused to let the implications of what he’d said sink in.

    “On the other hand, there’s people what have our job. And what is that?”

    He threw out the question to the group. Benny, who’d given Big Ben as an answer, put up his hand; the blond boy’s politeness was apparently contagious. The old man nodded at him.


    Benny earned his own ruffle of the hair for that and blushed through the dirt on his face.

    “Exactly! So … what’s the difference between what we do and what the government do? I mean … do you think the rozzers knock them on the bonce with their truncheons and cart them off to Australia?”

    The blond boy put up his hand.

    “What are ‘rozzers’, sir?” he asked.

    The older boy intervened.

    “Them’s the dirty stinking filth, the Peelers … the police.”

    “Quite right, me lovely,” the old man said. “Now, my question is this: Who do you reckon is taking the right path?”

    The bemused faces of the boys told him he’d have to clarify.

    “Is it the workers, what sweat and toil their whole lives for a loaf of bread, a bit of cheese and an egg or two if they’re lucky – while them what’s in charge grab money from their pockets before they’ve had a chance to spend it (and what never want for nothing, mind you – oh you should see their plates!)? Or is it us, the so-called ‘bad’ lot, what do the same thing as the government do but get tapped on the bonce for our trouble? Who’s taking the right path? The good folk or us? Put up your hand if you think it’s us.”

    The hands of the whole group shot up … all except that of the blond boy, who was contemplating the filthy floor and obviously mulling the question over.

    “And who thinks it’s the good folk what are taking the right path?”

    The blond boy tentatively raised his hand.

    The old man stroked his beard and turned to the man who’d handed out the food. They leaned in to whisper to each other.

    “Needs work,” the old man said. The other man nodded, his angry eyes fixed on the blond boy.

    “All right, me lovelies. That’s the lesson for today,” the old man said, clapping his hands and raising more dust in front of him. He pointed at the older boy. “Jack, you take the others and tell ‘em what streets to do today. You, me lovely…” he winked at the blond boy. “You come over here for a little conflab with me and Bill.”


  • Nice articulate of non-native words and ideas, Roy. Are you playing to the offshore folks?

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