Bonus: August 18 – September 15, 2021 Image Writing Prompt “A Pink Martini”

Theme: Image Writing Prompt “A Pink Martini”

Many writers draw their inspiration from art or images. There are so many stories that could be told from one detailed picture.

Use this image as inspiration for your story, it can be the image as a whole, a single part of it, or several elements inside the image itself.

Required Elements:

  • a pink martini

Word Count: 1,200

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Please Note: Comments may be considered “published” regarding 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 Stories must be in English, unpublished and your own work.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 stay within the word limit set for each contest.
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  • Stories must be posted no later than Wednesday morning at 6:00am PDT / 8:00am CST / 9:00am EST / 8:30pm IST / 2:00pm WET/GMT/ 4:00pm CET/1:00am AEDT (Thursday)
  • Voting starts Wednesday morning at 10:00am PDT / 12:00pm CST / 1:00pm EST / 11:30pm IST / 6:00pm WET/GMT/ 8:00pm CET/5:00am AEDT (Thursday) and you have 24 hours to vote.

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.

67 thoughts on “Bonus: August 18 – September 15, 2021 Image Writing Prompt “A Pink Martini”

  • August 19, 2021 at 4:39 pm
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    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.)

    Reply
    • September 5, 2021 at 1:55 am
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      Hi All,
      Struggling with this one, without being too cliched or twee. I have a cocktail bar setting, a stemmed glass, an umbrella and a trail of letters (not texts, as set pre-mobile phones and internet). A play of ideas with fairy, cheese moon and such but they are what may seem corny.
      I would appreciate extra time if it is available and will try to get the story less twee.
      Cheers, John.

      Reply
      • September 5, 2021 at 10:54 am
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        You now have until the 18th of September according to our illustrious moderator who has graciously extended this bonus story time. Looking for a story from you. I know for sure at this point, with only three stories, I’ve got 3rd place clinched … unless more authors join the fray.

        There’s plenty of time.

        Roy

        Reply
  • August 19, 2021 at 4:49 pm
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    Signing in

    Reply
  • August 23, 2021 at 2:30 pm
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    We’re All Adults Here
    By RM York
    1189 Words

    As she walked in the door, she drew the eye of everyone in the bar. She looked around hesitantly, as if thinking perhaps she didn’t belong here, then walked directly toward me as I stood mindlessly polishing the bar top, slowly, as I took in her good looks. She took the stool directly in front of me. I stopped polishing the bar. All my attention was focused on her. It felt like time had stopped. I stared for several seconds then realized how I must have looked.

    “What’ll you have?” I asked, feeling foolish.

    Blonde, blue eyed and wearing a teal colored silk dress which silhouetted a perfect body, I thought she was the most stunning woman I had ever seen. She tilted her head to one side as she looked at me, as if trying to understand what I asked, rather than make up her mind about what she wanted.

    I said, as gently as I could without seeming rude, “Is there something I can get you?”

    “Oh,” she replied, startled I asked a second question. “I’m sorry, I was thinking about something when you asked the first question. What was it?”

    “What was what?”

    “The first thing you asked me.”

    “What’ll you have?”

    “Is that what you asked me?”

    I was beginning to think I had finally found the epitome of the stereotypical blonde – the very blonde who started all the blonde jokes in the world. “Yes, Miss … it’s …”

    “It’s Miss, I’m not married,” she interrupted.

    “I … I … I wasn’t trying to be personal,” I stammered.

    “Oh no, that wasn’t what I meant. I just wanted you to know that calling me Miss is OK. But it’s Petal, my name I mean. It’s Petal.” Her voice was soft and, as I think about it, it almost tinkled, as if tiny silver bells were ringing as she spoke each syllable of every word.

    “You’re serious? Petal is your name?”

    She smiled, perfect white teeth disarming me and making me feel foolish for asking. “Yes, she said. “Petal. It’s Petal of the Rose, actually.”

    I looked around helplessly. This conversation had been going on for two minutes and nothing had been accomplished. Well, actually, something had. I knew her name. “That’s your real name? Petal of the Rose?”

    “You look surprised. It’s a perfectly lovely name, I think. My mother gave it to me.” She looked as if she might cry the way her mouth suddenly pouted, with her lower lip slightly protruding. “Is there something wrong with it?”

    “I’m sorry, no, I didn’t mean that. There’s nothing wrong with it at all. It’s a perfectly good name. Just one I’ve never heard before. That’s all.”

    “Well,” she said, “I’m new at this. It’s my first time in a place like this. Do you want to talk to me or would you rather be doing something else?”

    My head was swirling with her disjointed answers. “Right now,” I said, “I would like to make you whatever drink you would like. Or, if you’re hungry, we can get you something to eat. I can get you a menu.”

    She gasped. “A menu. I’ve never seen one. That will be fun.”

    “OK. One menu coming up. Now, what can I get you to drink?”

    “Well, my sister told me I should get a pink martini.”

    She didn’t look the martini type at all. I was under the impression this may be the fist time she ever took a drink of alcohol. “Are you sure? Have you ever had one before?”

    “Oh no,” she said, “this will be my first.” She looked as if she was going to say more. I wasn’t wrong. “In fact, this will be my first drink ever.”

    I hesitated. “May I suggest something a little less strong for your first time?” I asked.

    “Nope, a pink martini. That will do it.”

    “Okay,” I answered. “A pink martini. Vodka or gin?”

    “Oh, I don’t know? Jasmine just said a pink martini. She didn’t tell me there were different kinds.”

    “Why don’t we start with vodka?” I was beginning to wonder if my original suspicions regarding her blondness weren’t that premature after all. But, she had said she was new at this.

    “That will be fine.”

    Two minutes later I slid one perfect vodka pink martini across the bar in front of her along with a menu. She was delighted. You could see the excitement in her eyes which, by the way, matched her dress. She lifted it carefully by the stem and held it up to the light.”

    “You can see through it,” she exclaimed. “How pretty.” Then, she brought it to her lips and drank the entire drink without stopping. She set it down on the bar and said, “That was better than I imagined. Wow. Jasmine was right.”

    I must have had a stunned look on my face, because she looked at me and said. “What?”
    I didn’t know what to say. I shrugged. “I just didn’t expect you to chug it. Normally, with a martini, especially their very first one, people sip them slowly. Something like that can hit you all at once.”

    “Hit you?” she said. “How can a drink hit you? It’s not alive.”

    It was then that I noticed that in all the time I had been paying attention to Petal that no one else had moved, ordered, coughed or did anything since the young woman had entered. Time, indeed was standing still. ’What,’ I thought to myself, ‘is going on?’

    “May I have another, please?” she asked.

    “Of course. I made another pink martini for ‘Petal’ and served it. She picked it up and sipped it carefully. “Is this correct?” she asked. I nodded. Then she downed the rest of it in one swallow. “One more, please. I could get used to this.”

    I hesitated. I wasn’t sure what was going on, but decided to play it out. I served her another. That’s when it happened. She disappeared. One minute she was holding the martini and the next, the empty martini glass lay shattered on the bar and the young lady was gone. I thought.

    Then, looking over the bar, I noticed a tiny creature huddled on the bar stool looking around bewildered. It was Petal, now only three inches tall, and I swear, wearing wings. I ran around the bar and picked her up in my hand.

    “Jasmine told me not to have more than two, but I didn’t listen.” I understood her clearly, but faintly. I held her to eye level. “I’m going to need a place to stay tonight. It’s not safe for me in the real world. You look like a nice person. How about your place?”

    I didn’t hesitate. “Yes.” ‘Oh, Hell yes,’ was my exact thought.

    OK, don’t think about it the way you are. I wasn’t going to take advantage of her. How could I? She’s only three inches tall. I will tell you this. On the way home, she told me that fairies have the ability to turn into full size people at will. And, when she does, all bets are off.

    Reply
    • August 23, 2021 at 2:38 pm
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      Roy I thought this was a terrific story. I loved the way the bartender kept thinking she was a stereotypical blonde while at the same time you were gradually doling out hints to the contrary. A real crackerjack of a story!

      Reply
      • September 5, 2021 at 10:59 am
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        Trish, thanks. Hmm … a crackerjack of a story. I like that. Thanks again.

        Roy

        Reply
    • August 26, 2021 at 8:43 am
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      Bravo!
      You captured the bar atmosphere so well… I mean the kind in books that feel so comfortable and there are always interesting characters stumbling across the threshold.
      Good urban fantasy – I wasn’t expecting a ***** at all and you delivered the kind of character that I always hope will turn up, but usually in movies and shows that I watch… there is a more mundane (or annoying) explanation at the end.

      Reply
      • August 26, 2021 at 6:53 pm
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        Rumple, thanks for your kind words. Actually I have you to thank for the idea. You mentioned Spider Robinson, of whose series Callahan’s, I am a big fan. I have Asimov’s SF Pulp Magazine’s first edition and received them for years. The idea came quickly although, the ending developed as I wrote it down in one quick sitting.

        It was fun to write.

        Roy

        Reply
        • August 30, 2021 at 4:06 pm
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          I am jealous, especially because my attempts at this have not been as natural or fluid!

          By the way, did you ever read Asimov’s Black Widower’s books? I just found one in the trunk of my car (lol) that I just started reading and it is really fun, but it reminds me of Callahan’s… just with more PHDs and sophistication and fewer puns and romantic encounters.

          Did Asimov do it first, in a weird way, or am I seeing a connection that isn’t there? I am used to Asimov doing robots and alien worlds, not bars and cold war espionage (but it is really good).

          Reply
          • August 31, 2021 at 1:47 pm
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            Rumple,

            Asimov had a monthly anthology called Issac Asimov’s Science Fiction, in which the first story Spider Robinson wrote called The Guy With the Eyes, appeared about Callahan’s Place. It’s popularity called for more over the years and Robinson then published them in several books. It was his first ever short story sale, by the way, in 1972.

            Never read the Black Widower’s books. I’ll check one out from the library. I stopped reading as much when the kids got older, although I still have an extensive SciFi First Edition collection, including an Asimov. All of my children are avid (with a capital A) and I couldn’t be more happy.

            Good luck with your story. I think Carrie’s going to extend this, otherwise it looks like I could be a sure winner. Lol.

            Roy

    • September 1, 2021 at 10:58 am
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      Great story Roy,

      Fabulous dialogue, very clean and polished prose and a nice little twist at the end. (Easily my choice for best story so far. LOL) I finally have an idea for a story too, (but no ending yet,) and I’m hoping that… Well hell, what do I care? I’ll write it and post it. It can’t be much worse than most of my comments. Right?

      Reply
      • September 5, 2021 at 11:13 am
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        Ken C.,

        Thanks, mi amigo. Appreciate the comments on the dialogue. This was one of those stories that wrote itself, and the dialogue came quickly as my characters literally said them to me as I wrote. I kid you not. Once, I actually had to pause as I thought, ‘Did she actually just say that?” … and, yes she had, because she repeated it. Scary stuff when you’re writing late at night. That’s probably why I don’t do horror well. I’m afraid of what’s lurking in the canyons of my mind. I know my wife tells me there’s a lot of open space up there.

        I’m wondering where the hell everybody is? Last year at this time … well, it was covid and there apparently was lots of down time for people … we had a stretch where we were numbering story contributions in the teens and once had at least twenty. This time, we have a total of three as I’m writing this. As I told John, I’ve got third locked up at present.

        I comfort myself and say it’s the quality of the writing that scares a lot of wanna-be writers away. But, I think that should attract writers looking at my work and saying to themselves, “If this bozo can write this stuff and enter it, I’ve GOT to contribute something.”

        Maybe they’re right and I’m wrong.

        Roy

        Reply
        • September 5, 2021 at 11:41 am
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          You were in “the zone” or channeling your muse, something I have only done once or twice my whole life! Well, sometimes I have my muse for a short interval, but not for the entire duration of the story like yours above.

          I know I was too intimidated until I found an idea I had confidence in, but I blame ME for the silence.

          I am a Debbie Downer, though I have been called an “energy vampire”, and people don’t come here for that, or for deep reflection on whatever nonsense I am spewing because of my digital Asperger’s.

          I’m trying to reel it in and strap it down, if that means anything!

          But maybe the ‘Rona is still to blame.

          I do feel stronger since I joined the club, so maybe I am parasitically feasting after all?

          Reply
          • September 5, 2021 at 6:11 pm
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            Rumple,

            Most of my better stories are written quickly, sitting down and transcribing. I don’t know what to call it, but I’ll think of something.

            Sometimes I’ll have a great concept, it will start rolling around, and I’ll let it percolate for a few days and when I sit down to write it fades faster than a waking dream.

            Keep after it John. When I first started writing I knew I could write. I just didn’t realize how bad I was. Now, while I’ve improved, there’s plenty of room for more. You’ll be fine. Just believe you can write yourself, because I think you have talent. The thing about writing is, you have to do it, or nothing gets written.

            Roy

    • August 31, 2021 at 7:29 am
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      Yes but I could push it off, and extend it. We only have one story, which is surprising.

      Reply
      • August 31, 2021 at 4:58 pm
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        E Platypus Pushitoff.

        I’ve been drunk for six days, celebrating my last victory, and when I soubouroed up last night I realized I only have a day left to invent, compose, rewrite, edit and post a story of profoundly marginal relevance. (In other words: The usual situation.)

        This is unfortunate because I love photo prompts, and with all of the visual cues in the photo, moon cheese; a cafe; etc. There’s a lot of stimuli in the prompt. But I don’t have any ideas yet.

        So… I would be grateful for a little extra time. (It’s not like I’m asking for water, or anything.)

        The lack of ‘comments or stories? Maybe everyone is boycotting the site until you get rid of me? Ever consider that? (I have.)

        I chided Ilana last week for a pointed screed that seemed accidentally aimed at one person. And then I followed that up with my own screed that castigated every parent on the planet. That’s a pretty extensive demographic, I’m guessing I insulted 6 billion people in one comment. (For those who keep track of such things, it’s got to be some kind of record.)

        It follows then, ipso factoid Motorola, (my Latin’s a little rusty,) an apology to that demographic would be the largest, most extensive, comprehensive apology in the history of apologetics, hands down. So… here goes.

        I’m sorry parents. Please accept my grand, multitudinous, record-breaking apology.

        This apology is due to some further consideration of the issues on my part, and some experience dealing with other people’s kids. (Real kids in a real-life setting.) I feel that most parents are already burdened enough. With medical bills, keeping them from eating the cat litter, running out into traffic, drowning in the bathtub or toilet, choking on a goldfish, etc., (and this is before they’re even teenagers yet.) Parents don’t have the time, or the energy to save the planet. (Let alone get a decent haircut.) Which leaves the job to us childless people. We’re the ones who should be saving the planet. But who are we saving it for? YOUR KIDS. Which is all you parental types ever talk about. Your KIDS, and how marvelous they are.

        And when you can get one of us, (the childless) to admit that we don’t have any kids, you act like we’ve been cheated by God out of some great gift, rather than congratulating us on our luck! Or, in my case, lazy sperm. I thank my lucky stars for my lazy sperm. I’ll confess, I just assume they’re lazy. I know I’ve introduced them to as many women as possible over the years. Maybe they just get disoriented or they’re afraid of the dark. I don’t know. Maybe they can’t swim in a straight line. (I know I can’t.) If it sounds like I’m making excuses for my sperm? Honestly, I just feel like we’re on the same page.

        And how can I not be sympathetic? I don’t know what an egg looks like to a sperm, but ‘some people say’ a sperm is pretty small compared to an egg. Must be intimidating to a tiny little armless sperm, racing up to this gigantic egg, (He doesn’t even have a sword, much less arms.) And he’s supposed to infiltrate it? Uh-huh, but how? Hmm, maybe this is where the pink martini comes into the picture.

        And then, as soon as just one of these sperm successfully ‘establishes egress’, (as it were), the entire egg structure slams shut to all the other sperm. ‘Ka-thunk.’
        “Sorry boys, she’s closed for business.”
        “What? But I swam all this way…”
        “Actually, she’s over there, but yes, I know how you feel.”
        “Do you? I’m tired, all right? I was lazy to begin with, now I’m tired. Should’ve stuck with my original ‘instinct’. Get the lawn chair out, slather myself with sunscreen.”

        I want to thank the moderator for providing me with this platform and this prompt to make my record-breaking global apology, explain the reason why I never had kids, and in the process, tell ‘The True Story of My Lucky Sperm’ (…and their lazy ways.) I’ve had a lot of questions about it over the years. You know? Mostly from parents. (God bless their pea-pickin’ hearts.)

        With a little more time, and all that historical apologizing behind me, I can now focus on the martini story. Hope everyone’s okay. And not making plans to kill me.
        Yet.

        Reply
        • September 1, 2021 at 1:46 pm
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          Your comments are always of the highest quality and I certainly didn’t take any offense about the parenting stuff.

          I had a dream when I was 16 that I was playing basketball in a giant cavern filled with lights, like a disco with a really advanced laser show, and all of my classmates were there.

          Then an enormous gazelle started crushing everyone with bloody hooves and I realized that I was inside a womb, not a club or a gym, and I saw a massive egg behind the gazelle.

          Clearly my dream was telling me something, Jung would get it, but I just thought it was cool and you reminded me of it just now.

          And it is nice to hear an apology, even if it isn’t warranted, because it is just more evidence of your good aura and humility.

          Oh wait…maybe it was trying to tell me that some things seem like games because they are fun, but they really are very serious, like the consequences of having a child (like how I tried to tie it together with your statements, even though I am just waxing intellectual?).

          Reply
        • September 5, 2021 at 11:20 am
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          Nope. No killing thoughts in my mind. Just chuckling to myself and wondering how Kim has lived with you for so long. I have to imagine you say some interesting things to her from time to time, and SHE might be plotting something, although not killing … nothing that drastic … maybe just a Lorena Treatment. You know. A Bobbit.

          Keep the comments coming, Ken. I love ’em.

          Roy

          Reply
  • August 31, 2021 at 11:38 am
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    I got intimidated by the quality of the story here, and then I noticed that there was a lady in the glass only YESTERDAY (how did I miss such a huge detail? I actually noticed the words on the receipt before I noticed a drunken woman swimming in a martini glass!)

    I am still going to try, though I have nothing in the noggin right now.

    Reply
    • August 31, 2021 at 1:54 pm
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      Rumple,

      Funny, as I was writing the story I checked to make sure I had the prompt correct, and saw the girl in the glass, too, hence my girl in the story wearing a teal dress. She was already blonde, blue eyed and stunning. I have a thing about stunning, blue eyed blondes. I married one.

      I’ll take your compliment and enjoy it for a short while. I’m glad it came across that way.

      Roy

      Reply
      • August 31, 2021 at 3:06 pm
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        Yeah I had to clarify because I don’t want to be misunderstood and I am OCD and it is driving me nuts – I meant that I was dragging my feet because it seems hard to top yours and then I finally got motivated and realized that I didn’t even understand the prompt properly because I guess I thought that the girl was part of the garnish and I didn’t see the humanoid form!

        But I got one in the pipe now.

        Reply
  • September 1, 2021 at 10:35 am
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    “Pub Slither”
    By Rumplefinkies
    Word Count: 944

    It had been a very satisfying pub crawl and Desmond was proud of himself. One whole year had transpired, and he had stopped at three or four establishments every night! The journey kept getting extended because he was having too much fun to stop. You could say that he had underestimated both his thirst and the number of bars, taverns, pubs, and cafes that they had up North.
    Desmond pulled the map from a deep pocket in his duster and inspected the plotted route from the shadows. The long winding path of his pilgrimage had finally slithered back to the start. A “pub slither” would be a more appropriate name for this trek, especially because vampires have fangs and cold blood.

    Did you think that I would dangle clues about and lead you on until I finally revealed that he was a vampire? That could be fun, but that is not the twist in this snake’s tale.
    
    Our sanguinary subject stuffed the map back into his pocket, leapt out of the alley, tipped his hat to a passing elderly couple, and confidently approached the Moon Cheese Café. Desmond walked in like he owned the place, but something was off. An offensive odor hit him like a sucker punch as he strode through the double doors, though he maintained a cool exterior and continued to the bar without breaking his stride.
    
    It was a fellow creature of the night. Unmistakably.
    
    To his shock, the bartender that he had feasted on a year ago was leaning back and smiling at him. Had Desmond failed to properly murder the gentleman? He cast his memory back and thought hard on it for a few moments, but then he remembered that there had been some “funny business” that night.
    
    The girl with the pink martini. She had been drugged by some wretch with evil on his mind, you can always taste the way it taints the blood. Desmond remembered the outrage he felt and how it had only taken him a few minutes to surmise that the culprit was the bartender himself.
    
    Closing time held a different surprise for the vile bastard, but the girl awoke in her own bed with just a little anemia. Desmond was a vampire, not a monster, and he found that killing was always easier when you feel like the good guy. 
    
    But he had underestimated the effects of the liquid filth in that martini.
    
    That was the only way that Desmond could have slipped up so bad, or so he reasoned to himself. He wasn’t sloppy when he was partaking of a drunk or even a junkie. It must be whatever creative little cocktail the smugly grinning man whipped up that wiped his memory and threw him off his perfect streak.
    
    Because he had failed to finish the job, the world was graced with the presence of this trash yet again. Desmond didn’t want children and enjoyed the bachelor life, so what do YOU think he planned to do with the guy?
    
    “Welcome back to my humble haven. What’s your venom, FRIEND?”, spat the newbie through indiscreet fangs. 
    
    “I know what YOUR venom is. You left a bad taste in mouth, literally and figuratively, but I look forward to the chance to kill you a second time!”
    
    Our fiend had retorted with equal animosity, but he disciplined himself decades ago not to reveal his canines so carelessly, so he did not flaunt them and kept them retracted. Furthermore, his voice was hushed to hide beneath the murmur of the patrons all around, not hissing and sibilant like this petulant amateur. Desmond wondered why he was trying to make a scene and considered the fact that the bartender had the whole year to plot revenge, despite his lack of maturation and refinement.
    
    That is precisely when the doors burst open again. In marched a dozen or so men and women, all conspicuously clad in black and proudly brandishing their prodigious eyeteeth. Kids these days.
    
    Desmond recognized the whole lot of them. They were all victims of his, and from the very same pub slither that he had just concluded, though it was clear that they were each from a different stop. There were many more loose ends to tie up, it would seem.
    
    NOW Desmond knew what was going down. He hadn’t been that sloppy, not by a long shot. This… mistake behind the bar had trailed him, found a few people with foggy heads and puncture wounds, put it together, and proceeded to assemble a ragtag army of bitter victims, all freshly turned. 
    
    Deliberately turned, not accidents.
    
    Who was going to clean up the mess? Responsibility fell on Desmond, for his lack of self-control started this infestation.
    
    And he was not one to shirk responsibility. 
    
    A pair of wicked daggers appeared in his hands, serrated edges glistening in the magenta from a neon noodle. Their owner smiled, but the dental implants obscured the fangs, because he had class and restraint.
    
    Witnesses said the bar fight was fierce and the customers all scattered at the first sight of blood, but that was nothing compared to the gas explosion and structure fire that ensued. Unfortunately, the owner burned with his business. What a travesty.
    
    Desmond slinked out into the night and sighed to himself while he licked his twin blades clean. He lost his fedora in the blaze, but at least no innocents were harmed.
    
    It was time to slither back after his trail of destruction. He would have to pass through his own wake and ensure that there were no more mistakes wandering around. 
    
    That is the price you pay when you drink irresponsibly.
    


    Reply
    • September 1, 2021 at 1:03 pm
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      Rumplefinkies- terrific story. I loved the plot and thought the interjections of the narrator made the story much more fun. Also enjoyed the word sibilant. Great job! Thanks for giving me a great read today.

      Reply
    • September 2, 2021 at 1:05 am
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      John,

      I second Trish’s comments whole-heartedly. A really fun read, great plot, I really enjoyed the interjections as well. (I just didn’t know what to call them. Thanks to Trish for that.) I confess I didn’t know what ‘sibilant’ meant either. A minute ago. But you and Trish knew. (So, how can I get into this little sibilant club? Do I have to know the meaning? Of the word? Or what?)

      I think you’ve done more for my vocabulary than all the books I’ve read in the last two years. It’s a bit annoying, but, I’ll survive it.

      As far as editing or typos? Other than the missing ‘my’ that you mentioned, I saw one thing that you could tweak. (‘…looking forward to the chance…’) Everything else is excellent, though. And, I should tell you that, I’m not into the whole vampire genre. I’m not into it. I haven’t seen more than 17 minutes of the Twilight series, if, that is, it actually was a series. Was it? I don’t know, and it doesn’t matter. Because I don’t care. See?

      But your story is so entertaining that I didn’t mind that they were vampires. The main character has a certain charm or appeal, too. Which reminds me to ask. This isn’t the first time I’ve seen this character, is it? He seems familiar.

      Your writing is excellent, by the way. And this is a great example of it.

      Reply
      • September 2, 2021 at 8:25 am
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        I am not worthy! But thank you!

        I call the Twilight books and movies “that crepuscular nonsense” as a stealthy way to mock it without offending fans!

        Yeah I love vampires but there is a whole spectrum of them, and I prefer the Bram Stoker to Anne Rice wavelengths… but there are lots of campy and action-packed movies that are fun too (Lost Boys, From Dusk Till Dawn, Near Dark, etc.).

        Vampire comedy that mocks itself? What We Do In The Shadows (the movie and the show).

        Vampire role-playing? The World of Darkness (great card games and video games too).

        But Twilight is a romantic and teen oriented thing that I can’t get into (they SPARKLE in daylight and it does not hurt them at all, plus they play baseball to kill the time?). I like romance now and then, (that old flick Notorious is real sweet), but you can’t get me to buy the phoned-in vampirism!

        And I wear an english racing cap instead of a fedora now, but I guess Desmond is me wearing some kind of Neo outfit that would totally give him away (and the hat would look funny with a duster). I think I stole the name from somewhere, but I can’t imagine who. Desmond Tutu? Desmond Dekker, the reggae artist?

        And he has class and fighting prowess, so he is more what I would like to be. A projected fantasy white knight antihero! My one suit does not fit me, I can’t put on a tie, and I always look like a little boy in his Dad’s clothes!

        Did you catch the ouroboros?

        Reply
      • September 2, 2021 at 4:53 pm
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        Yeah it should be:

        “I look forward to killing you a second time.”

        Thank you!

        Reply
    • September 5, 2021 at 12:03 pm
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      John,

      I’ve got mixed emotions about Author Intrusion (Interjections of the narrator, which is truly the author). Your story is rampant with it. Not that it is a bad thing, although there are those in the literary world who will have you drawn and quartered for it in any amount, even slightly.

      And, in the past, I have pointed out this infraction to would be authors on this site, from time to time, once not that long ago. I think it should be used rarely, if at all, but in a fluff piece like your vampire story, OK, go for it. .

      I have used it myself occasionally in my early writing. You’ve used it successfully for at least Trish and Ken C., and, I must admit I’m coming around a little bit.

      One of my favorite authors uses it successfully all the time. He not only uses author intrusion successfully, but also foreshadowing. And that is none other than Stephen King. Dear Reader is a calling card of his.

      I can’t think of the title of the book off hand in which he wrote about a mailman happily putt putting down the road in his mail truck, farting merrily along as he drove, not knowing he had a series of inoperable tumors in his intestines causing the excess gas and that would one day kill him before he could retire. It was an inconsequential character that really had nothing to do with the story at all, yet, to this day I remember that paragraph.

      In my roundabout way, I guess I’m just warning you about using author intrusion, because it can backfire on you. There are those who get annoyed with it quickly, and may even put the book down never to pick it back up again.

      On the other hand, if Stephen King uses it, why can’t I, and for that matter, why can’t you? But, then again, I’m not Stephen King.

      Let’s just say I thoroughly enjoyed your story and the plot you used to get from a good beginning to a moral and a warning at the end. Good job, Rumple.

      Although I’m not sure vampires slither, and I was really surprised they had morals, but that’s the nice thing about being an author. You can make up stuff, on purpose. But, I did know sibilant, and sanguinary – I was a hospital corpsman (medic) in the Navy.

      Roy

      Reply
      • September 5, 2021 at 2:01 pm
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        Thanks for the advice – I need it!

        I was experimenting with a different perspective because I keep straying back to the default demented monologues (see other prompt and my deleted bloodbath-with-rants story).

        I can’t help but chime in, so the author is going to keep on intruding until I get my sea legs!

        Vampires that are too nice to eat are more common ever since the moping Brad Pitt from “Interview with the Vampire”, and probably before that.

        The World Of Darkness calls it “The Path of Prometheus”, because it is supposed to have roots in Greece and it is all about sacrificing your needs for others, like weak mortals.

        But I had already thought about becoming a vampire and how much it would suck to be a murderer since I was a kid. I had a nightmare that I was forced into an initiation ritual and vampires held me down while a serpent slithered down my throat, which is a metaphor for the evil within. I ended the dream on a positive note, because I realized the easy solution was to only slay murderers, rapists, abusers, and door to door salesmen (jk).
        Blade influenced the dream because I just watched it.

        I think the problem is that vampires are silly, but I take them too seriously and see it as a struggle for Humanity ( that is more Anne Rice and World of Darkness speaking).

        I just read that more than 12 million Americans believe in secretive reptilian humanoids that are taking over the world, disguised as politicians and celebrities! I’m not even crazy when you consider it all!

        But vampires have bat qualities AND reptilian qualities if you look at Dracula. His name for one, but also the weird crawling on the castle wall thing and the fangs which almost have a venom, though it is really more tainted and foul saliva that corrupts the body and soul!

        Weird that all these factoids are from the same article?

        Vampire history and lore is very complicated (see the relationship to homophobia and antisemitism as well as practices to reduce plague transmission).

        I wanted his path across America, the pub crawl, to be the ouroboros, and he has to “eat” his own progeny on the second trip around in a circle… So I leaned into snake comparisons more.

        Reply
  • September 1, 2021 at 10:37 am
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    Argh I hit enter way too much, don’t know what I was thinking.

    Reply
  • September 1, 2021 at 10:38 am
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    And I left a “my” out, it sounds weird now, but I wonder if that is still legit grammar somehow?

    Reply
    • September 1, 2021 at 12:57 pm
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      Is legit grammar somewhere now.

      I got 522 words. Have to run some chores before I can finish though.

      Reply
  • September 1, 2021 at 10:57 am
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    This is why I need to stop tearing up my rough drafts in a little boy’s blind rage when they go unread – there were corrections on those pages that could have prevented this and some other flaws.

    Reply
  • September 3, 2021 at 3:07 am
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    Good Old-Fashioned Horse Sense. (1201 Words.)

    The Editor-in-Chief called Alex into his office, handed him a business card and a tablet with directions on it.

    Alex glanced at the ‘card’, ‘Lost in Time Dating Service,’ and rolled his eyes.

    The editor squinted up at him. “You go. You make date. You write nice… nice, positive story for new client. I publish.”

    Then the ringer clanged and Alex was driven from the cubicle and out into the courtyard. He stood there in the sunlight, looking at the directions. Then at the card.

    It must be some kind of retro-dating thing, Alex thought. He’d seen hostels, inns and, even entire towns, dedicated to preserving or replicating the past. But he wasn’t sure how the principle would work with a dating service. Should he dress like a Hun? Wear a toga? Or toss a bearskin over his shoulders? He had no idea. But his job was to find out, and then write something positive that made it sound like fun.

    He fed the name of the café into the vehicle’s CPS, after memorizing it: ‘Moon Cheese Café’. No such place existed. He was reduced to following the directions on the tablet.

    386 South to the Mercian Causeway, but bear right to avoid the giant, once safely past, merge up onto the Downhill Parkway, drive until you see the three new concrete bridges, take the next turn off which puts you on Bunkers Creek road. You take that past the old sportatorium and into Potter’s Marsh.

    Not surprising that he took several wrong turns and arrived well after dark.

    The light from the Moon Cheese Café illuminated the mists like a glowing dome. It resembled an alien force field. A big round sign on its roof served as a welcome beacon as he pulled into the parking lot, a graveyard for potholes.

    The thickening mist gave everything a multi-colored halo in the torch light. He was thinking that this godless British climate would kill him before his time as he tromped through the flooded parking lot, and launched himself through the double-doored entrance with a touch of impatience.

    The place was packed.

    A woman waved at him from the far end of the café. Hers was the only table with one occupant. He moved through the room, winding his way past groups of cheerful and animated patrons.

    She was a young, flat-chested woman with perfectly straight, platinum hair, and a see-through dress. She had enormous turquoise eyes and a long regal nose sitting above an impish smile.

    “Are you…?”

    “Yes I am,” she said. “And you must be…”

    “Alex,” He replied.

    “One name, huh?” She wrinkled her nose. “For the sake of the date would you consider using two?”

    “Sure,” he said. She smelled good, had good posture and seemed friendly. For her, three names.

    She said, “Are you afraid of me? No? Sit here.” She patted the table with her glittered hand and he sat.

    She was halfway through what appeared to be a pink martini, with a miniature paper umbrella dangling from the lip of the glass.

    “Are you my date?” He wanted to know.

    “No.” She smiled and set the drink down. “No. I’m thee, uh… sales rep, let’s say. For now.” She snapped her fingers and said, “Management, that’s what you would call me. Okay?”

    He nodded.

    “Want a drink?” She asked.

    “Sure,” he said.

    She waved a waitress over. A stunningly carnivorous looking brunette approached. “What’ll you have?”

    Alex turned to the woman. “Any suggestions?”

    “They have something called a Plutonium Time Bomb.”

    He nodded at the waitress, willing to play along. “Sounds good.” She looked impressed and whisked herself away.

    “Did she look familiar?”

    He nodded. “She did.”

    “She’s an ‘amo-morph’. Their appearances morph into your long-lost love.”

    He said, “Really? Didn’t work.”

    “They’re illegal in some places, some times. They use their gift to take advantage of people.” She took a long sip of her martini. “…and make money.”

    The waitress delivered the drink and left before he could get another good look at her. Probably just as well.

    “So, how does this work, this retro-time dating thing?”

    “Retro-time?” She laughed heartily. “That’s you all over, Alex. Retro-time. That’s funny.” She downed her drink and signaled the waitress to bring another. She touched the table in a way that turned it into a screen or communications device, and began tapping it adroitly, pulling up a gallery of menus subdivided by historical eras. He could see portraits of women in their natural element and put a restraining hand on her arm when she’d come to a particularly primitive looking set of women.

    She smiled. “I might’ve known. Early forties era. Good choice for you. A lot of women in the forties are willing to time-date, and they’re, no offense but, very easily impressed by men of your era.” She had another drink in her hand.

    He was amazed at the power of this woman’s device, but used to the idea of impressing women of inferior knowledge. He could do that any time he wanted. But this was a service! And these women were different from what he was used to.

    Then his machine-oriented brain kicked in the brakes. “Wait a minute, you act like these women are actually from the 40’s, but how authentic is the actual experience? How much do they really know about the era they supposedly come from?”

    She allowed the images to blur, and turned to look at Alex directly. “They know all they need to know about the 40’s, or any other era, because that’s where they come from.”

    They stared at each other for a few moments until she said, “This is no gimmick, I don’t know what made you think this was a gimmick.”

    “I didn’t say it was.” He said flatly.

    She downed the rest of her martini and slid it across the table out of her way, and said, “You have a fetish for women from the 40’s?”

    “No, not. I don’t know, why?”

    “There are women from other times and other places, Alex. There are woman from the future who would, god help them, enjoy the attention of a man like you.”

    Alex was aware of this truth, but curious, too, and that’s what made him great. She pulled up women from the near, not-so-near, and relatively distant future. Alex made her stop at one and pointed at the screen. “That says, one-nine-four-eight. Is that the date?”

    She nodded.

    “That’s almost two-thousand years into the future.”

    She nodded, “Now you’re getting it.

    He was thinking the 340’s. B.C. It made him thoughtful, and he chose his next words with care. “You control powerful machinery and I respect that, but…”

    …when the Gods offer other-worldly pleasures, the price is often terrible.

    “I’m not sure I’m interested in your enterprise. It’s too much like a traveling brothel, isn’t it?”

    The whole place got quiet and a couple of her cross-bred bodyguards came over and escorted him, politely, to the exit.

    To satisfy his editor, he would have to invent a different story on the long ride home, but the horses knew the way and pulled the chariot to its destination with little oversight.

    Reply
    • September 3, 2021 at 8:28 am
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      What a fantastic blend of genres!

      You had me googling words to try to figure it all out – let me wait for some more comments before I ruin it for someone else!

      Reply
      • September 3, 2021 at 11:19 am
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        Thanks John. I’m not sure there IS anyone else.

        This dearth of participation on such an easy prompt seems like an omen, or maybe a sense of ‘disapprobation.’ I would’ve spent more time on this story but knew it was already past the deadline. It all came together in the end, I think. (Maybe it’s jibberish and I’m just drooling on my straight-jacket.)

        I’ve got five books waiting to be read, one of them is urgent, a small stack of magazines, several letters to write, and a trilogy with mold on it that is just about complete. I want to compile the best of my short stories, clean them up and create an anthology or two. Maybe offer them on a website, for donations, or donuts, whatever works. I gotta mow the lawn, too.

        Things are such, right now, that if you live in a place that isn’t being blown to smithereens, infected, flooded, quaked, burnt, poisoned, polluted or radiated… you feel grateful, don’t you? I know I do.

        Then I went swimming the other day and took my shirt off for an hour and the sun tried to kill me.

        When we’re outside sometimes, Kim has lately started saying to me, “This isn’t conducive to humans, is it?” I say ‘what?’ And she clarifies it, “This environment: Do you think it’s suitable for human beings?”

        I like to vary my answers. ‘Dead humans. Underground humans? HUMAN-ALIEN HYBRIDS! Etc. When you’re facing annihilation as a species, it’s important to maintain at least a marginal sense of humor. Irony at the least.

        My eggs are burning.

        Reply
        • September 3, 2021 at 1:45 pm
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          LOL!

          Amen!

          I think you are taking it better than me somehow, or maybe you are just using humor the right way!

          And good luck with that anthology! It sounds like you and Roy have a ton of stories and if even 1% of them are as good as these two stories, you could easily whip up an anthology or three!

          Reply
          • September 5, 2021 at 2:26 pm
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            Working on the anthology as we speak, John. I’ll keep you posted. I have several hundred stories, of which, I’m sure I could settle on a nice neat 100 or so. Depends on how many pages it would be. Not all of them are worthy of print for the general public I don’t think. Not content, but competence. Some of them need work.

            At the ripe old age of 79, I’d better get cracking if I want to see them in print.

            Roy

    • September 3, 2021 at 1:42 pm
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      SPOILERS BELOW!!!

      SPOILERS BELOW!!!

      Oh man so there is a lot of good stuff going on here!

      Masterful misdirection. Great story, but the layers of misdirection made it like a puzzle and are worth scrutiny by themselves! I was trying so hard to figure it out too!

      The CPS was one of the first things that made me consider that maybe it was set in the future, or maybe you knew about something called “Cambridge Positioning Systems” or something else that is from our world and maybe I just wasn’t aware of it.

      Then you mentioned “Mercian Causeway”, which felt like a huge clue and I googled it. I surmised that maybe it was set in England or had something to do with some of the older inhabitants of England, so maybe it was fairies from the future or something? I still didn’t guess anything to do with it actually being set in the past, even when you mentioned the giant, because I thought that it was a “Shadowrun” type world (our world in the future, but with goblins and elves and unicorns all coming back suddenly and being assimilated into normal society within a few interesting decades).

      I thought that maybe the giant was some kind of local landmark, like the “Big Chicken” monument near me, and I even thought that maybe you were talking about Miami because of the sportatorium (another google search revealed that there is one in Hollywood as well, and another search got me looking at a giant statue of a ground sloth in Miami?).

      Then you showed the building and described it in a futuristic way while you also confirmed that it was Britain after all, which made me go back to thinking that it was an advanced society in Britain that maybe was filled with legendary creatures for some reason (I still didn’t figure it out).

      Then the vibe shifted and I sort of got completely distracted with the interior and the dialogue. “Amomorphs” is an ingenious concept, and the word evoked memories of those silly books that I used to love “The Animorphs”. I liked how it had no effect on the narrator, but that sort of didn’t surprise me for some reason…. it made sense that not everyone would have a long lost love or be overwhelmed by the magic in the same way.

      Then the 40’s women? That stumped me, because you said that they were dressed primitive and I think women of the early 1900s were elegant in dress… or at least they had a fun sense of fashion (like flappers). Even flappers couldn’t be described as primitive, so I thought that you must have a different concept of “primitive” (I still didn’t get it).

      After the reveal and you mentioned the “cross-bred” guards (that is just like in the Shadowrun universe by the way, where security and hired muscle are often half-orc or even half-giant I think), then I sort of figured out that you WERE talking about an integrated society of different mythological humanoids and classic humans, and I went back and figured that the editor-in-chief was some sort of a goblin, fairy, leprechaun, or what-have-you. Or maybe just had some of the genetics there?

      Forgive me. The wording gets tricky, because “race” refers to the diverse genetics of our species, but fantasy uses the word “race” and similar words to refer to elves and hobbits and all of those kinds of peoples. Tolkien (and the later fantasy nerds like me and my friends) are to blame for this mainly, but he was imagining a prehistoric world that was influenced by the reality of scientific discoveries of Neanderthals and other hominids that stoked the global imagination. And he was right: we now know about Denisovans and “Dragon Man” and Homo Floresiensis, and there was some time overlap and genetic mixing going on, so basically Middle-Earth was reality, minus the magic!

      Back to your story. So at the point where he is escorted out, I had finally figured out what you had done! I think you were trying for this and crafted it that way, but I just wanted to let you know how my mental faculties were processing it all, if that helps.

      Then I got a flash of Calahan’s and the brothel that is associated with it (I forgot about the brothel until I looked it up a week ago). Your establishment is way better than that one, which always sounded like a good way to catch Legionnaires disease or maybe just a handful of classic stds. Like a downgraded version of the Playboy mansion? Gross.

      Yeah, your place seems like the people are all having more of a good time with no outright prostitution, though your narrator insinuated that there was little difference! Moral implications abound…. all those poor women and men getting swept off their feet by people in future or past timelines, depending on the situation!

      And damn man, it was “Chariot Positioning System” the whole time!

      DOH!

      SPOILERS ABOVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      SPOILERS ABOVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Reply
      • September 3, 2021 at 10:10 pm
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        Wow. Very impressive feat of literary sleuthing You’re very close, John. I actually had this at the end of the story: CPS – Chariot Power System. (Horse.) But it would have exceeded the word limit. So I deleted it for the contest. But yeah, the directions were written on a clay tablet and the ‘business card’ was the name written on something edible, which he ‘fed’ to his horse after memorizing it. Hee-hee-hee.

        Hey, you never told me if your character Desmond has appeared here before. I assumed you named him after the ‘windy’ sax player from the Dave Brubeck Quartet. Paul Desmond. I mean, it just seemed so obvious to me. (You don’t buy that, do you?)

        Reply
        • September 4, 2021 at 7:49 am
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          This was the first appearance for Desmond, but I actually like him enough to keep. I thought you were joshing me and implying that I slapped some fangs on myself, because my characters are still me at this point! You wouldn’t be wrong. Have a damn good weekend if you can!

          Reply
        • September 9, 2021 at 11:46 am
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          I looked up Paul Desmond (I liked “Take Five” and “Emily”).

          It said that he changed his last name to Desmond because it sounded cool (paraphrasing) and it was uncommon…which was my logic too!

          Reply
    • September 5, 2021 at 2:22 pm
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      Ken C.,

      A perfect example of how a prompt can deliver a story with absolutely nothing to do with the prompt except in a throw away manner. I mean that with all respect. I use the prompts far more implicitly, to my downfall in some cases, instead of using it as you did. What I’m saying is she could have been holding a Mauve Manhattan because the drink had absolutely no bearing on the story.

      Interesting story, and well done. Nicely written, but I do have a quibble punctuation-wise. I don’t think you need a possessive apostrophe in 40’s or 340’s and all of the numbers should be this way. You spelled it out in one instance. And, the use of ellipses as in the paragraph below (and in a couple of other spots):

      “You control powerful machinery and I respect that, but…” (Put a space after the ‘t’ in put.)

      …when the Gods offer other-worldly pleasures, the price is often terrible. (Put a space after the last ‘.’ before when.)

      “I’m not sure I’m interested in your enterprise. It’s too much like a traveling brothel, isn’t it?” (No spaces between phrases … this is all one sentence.) See what I did there?

      Unless, of course, you are making literary history with your unorthodox style and will become an author who changes how things are written by writers in the future all over the world. It could be called the “Cartisano Ellipse’. In this case I apologize in advance, stand corrected and will bow in the direction of Florida this very evening.

      Seriously, I enjoyed the plot and loved the way you used ‘the 40s’ to mean in any century. And, being in the past and going into the future. Nice twist. Very nice. I promise to steal that device and use it sometime in the future, no pun intended. Well done. Your dialogue is believable and your story has great flow. That used to count for something when we voted, and I’m not really sure why it was dropped.

      See you over in ouroboros?

      Roy

      Reply
  • September 7, 2021 at 3:54 am
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    The Fairy of Bohemia.

    I am waiting in the courtyard attached to Club Bohemia, which I have recently been frequenting. I wanted, and needed to feel comfortable and, in a place, that did not add to my anxiety. I have not done this before. I have been living in the city, and almost a year since I moved from my small rural town. Many letters and telephone calls have exchanged, I am finally ready today.
    Standing alone, but surrounded by people, each and every one of them engaged in their little cliques, and conversations. Trying not to stare or to engage or interact as I don’t wish to stand out. I secured a table with a couple of a high stools, but I stand between them, reserving this spot. Holding the glass by the stem I can feel my hand trembling. I steady the glass to the coaster and wonder again what I am doing here.
    A few minutes later with the cocktail in hand again and aptly name a ‘Tinkerbell’, as all the drinks have literary or artistic names. How Bohemian and modern. Time is ticking, passing, and I am early as always, never late, anxiety won’t allow tardiness.
    The alcoholic spirits are adding to my courage, but I am a clock watcher, always have been. Due to arrive at 7 pm and it is almost that time now according to my wristwatch, I prefer clock faces over relying on wall-mounted timepieces any day.
    Courage comes by way of each sip, working up to this day for some time, I don’t rush into anything and he has often said the same of himself, softly, softly. We realised that we share interests, the love of books, all the classics, modern art, theatre and jazz . I glance down at my watch and it is now several minutes after 7pm. Have I been stood up?
    I don’t know what to do, should wait a bit, see if he is lateness is excusable, give him the benefit of the doubt. I finish the last drops of my drink and place the empty on the table for collection by the wait staff. I wouldn’t want him to think that he is late and I had needed to drink a full cocktail whilst waiting. Best pretend I am waiting to order when he arrives.
    I had gotten the feeling from him that promptness and time management were important, but not essential. I glance at my watch once more just to fill in some seconds, then look up slowly once more.
    As I raise my head, the courtyard doors open in front of me, about six foot away. I can see him, he scans the darkening space that he enters, adjusting his eyes, and then spies me. I see him mouthing the words, ‘I’m Sorry’, as he walks my direction. He is just like the photograph I have seen, maybe even better than I imagined, and I am glad he is now here, all the lateness regret is gone from me. I smile in return, as he weaves his way through the crowd.
    He is almost with me, when he extends his hands and his face lights up, my actions are mirroring those of his. As we meet we instantly hug, I feel his warmth and I do not want this to end, I can sense that he wants the same.
    Our embrace continues, I raise my head, and being almost the same height, our eyes connect, as our embrace remains. I am, for the first time, looking into the eyes of my father.

    Reply
    • September 13, 2021 at 1:07 pm
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      John, nice bit of misdirection, in my case anyway, making me think it was a blind date. I guess it is, but not a romantic one. So, I liked the story from that aspect. You write well, and I really don’t have any quibbles with your grammar or punctuation at this point. Just a nice story about someone who is connecting with someone obviously important she wants in her life and it turns out to be her father.

      I just feel there is so much more that you could have written. Maybe that’s what I feel is wrong with your story. There’s not enough of it and I want more. Maybe that’s a good thing, to leave your audience wanting more, maybe not.You don’t want them to be thinking, I don’t know if I want to read Filby today. He always leaves me wanting more. Your character build up of the protagonist is very good, and, although there is no gender mentioned nor specified in any way, I feel the character is female. Perhaps it was the frilly drink, even though you take care to mention all the drinks have literary or artistic names. I really didn’t think a guy would be ordering a ‘tinker bell’, but then, that’s very presumptuous of me, isn’t it?

      Anyway, I like the story.

      Roy

      Reply
  • September 9, 2021 at 4:47 am
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    “Major Distraction”
    a short story by Lara Crave (larablissfiction@yahoo.com)

    “The strongest you’ve got,” Sander orders a drink from the slender blonde bartender washing glasses at the empty hotel Pool Bar.

    “Why knock yourself down so early?” She tilts her face up from the sink towards Sanders, stopping for a moment on his well-chiseled pecs under the unbuttoned shirt. His skin’s flushed. He hasn’t been in Mexico more than two days. Enough to burn, too little to tan.

    “Can do with some distraction,” is all he says.

    “Got dumped, right?” she reads his mind. Fast. It isn’t difficult – it’s written all over his face. “Okay. Speak to Auntie Lara,” she teases him as she dries her long fingers on a cloth.

    Auntie? Oh, as in ‘Agony Aunt’. It takes Sander a moment to get around that. She’s at least half his age. He nods. Another thing he’s only now getting around is that Jacqui’s gone. He’d started thinking Jacqui was the woman of his life. No other stuck around this long. Three years. On and off, true. They’d tear each other apart over nothing. But they’d then get back together. And each time, it’s hotter than ever.

    Too bad he said things today he’d never said before. Jacqui gave him a piece of her mind too. It was World War Three. He saw her loading her suitcase onto the taxi. To the airport, presumably.

    “What was her problem?” Lara the bartender pushes for more.

    “Tell you the truth, I’ve no idea. It’s silly, you know. Little things; trifles really. We were in Mexico for her birthday tomorrow. And now I’m alone…”

    Lara listens to his quick bursts. She’s a woman too, knows the game. Women get bored sometimes, need some rocking the boat. Even the greatest relationship gets dull after a while. A woman misses the thrill of falling in love. Kick up a fuss, and he’ll come sucking up to you afresh with teenage eyes. It’s like the first time every time.

    If she’s really done with a guy, she’ll leave him clean, gives no shit. No war. If she kicks up the dirt, that’s because she’s still very much into him. But Lara doesn’t tell Sander any of that. She eyes his Rolex with interest. This is not a bird to let go of.

    Sander shows the bartender Jacqui’s photo. Lara snatches the phone, and swipes for more pictures without asking for his permission. She’s still most surely hanging around here, Lara thinks but doesn’t say.

    She leans forward and gives Sander an ample view of her breasts together with his phone back. And then reaches for a bottle from behind.

    “You’ll be good after this,” she assures Sander, as she pours the liquor in a tumbler. The glistening ice-cubes crackle at the embrace of the dark warm liquid.

    Lara holds the glass out to Sander and spreads her elbows out wide on the counter, resting her upper body on them, once again allowing her breasts to span copiously right under his gaze. High cliffs fall gloriously inside her cleavage, and Sander’s eyes slip down those precipices into the unknown. Distraction is what he needs, distraction’s what he gets. Major distraction.

    The dark drink kicks in and Sander’s head swirls gleefully. Maybe this is meant to be. Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans. Bye, bye Jacqui, hello Lara. There’s almost something mystical about it. Like the way it happened back at Columbine High. He’d pumped iron for months to finally get accepted on the team. Just to break his arm days before his debut game. He cursed his luck in the hospital ward. The same ward where he got the news of the shooting.

    “Jesus lifted you by your very hair, son!” the visiting preacher told him.

    Maybe this is another big Jesus moment, Sander pondered, his gaze still sunken in the abyss between Lara’s breasts. Is there a heart too beneath those breasts?

    Lara refills his glass, and runs a finger down the middle of his chest. “I can distract you more than you’ll ever know,” she whispers in his ear, her hair tickling his face.

    “A gal like you? You must have a boyfriend, don’t you?”

    “I killed him,” she says flatly, like it’s what people do from time to time.

    “You did? Why so?” He doubts if this was the fearful truth or just a bad joke.

    “This other girl worked here at the bar. Dave fell for her charms. Thought I’d be cool about it. Well, I made him his favorite cocktail…”

    “You poisoned him?”

    She nods.

    “You’re kidding me, right?” Sander tries with difficulty to think straight, “You’d be tucked away, if you did that…”

    “Nope, Sir. I prepared his drink. Did I say I served it? She did! One clean sweep and I sorted out both of them. He bit the dust, she jailhouse rib-eye.”

    ‘Bull!’ Sander thinks, but doesn’t say. “You wouldn’t be telling me this. I could’ve been a police-officer – Interpol whatever – for all you know.”

    “You, a policeman? You’re just a pussy in a tight rib-cage!”

    Sander isn’t sure if that’s meant to insult or tease.

    “When did you kill him?”

    She thinks a moment. “Like a month or two ago.”

    A month or two? Something this big, and she’s off by a month ? She’s bluffing. Sander’s overwhelmed by an odd mix of relief and disappointment: she’s a liar not a killer!

    Lara finally abandons her sultry stance the second a chubby twenty-something hurries towards her, panting.

    “Sorry, I’m late. Overdid it with the siesta!” says Chubby.

    “It’s okay, Carlos. I’d good company here. Hmmm what’s you name – ?”

    “Sander.”

    “Sander, hmmm. It’s the end of my shift. You stay with Carlos? Or join me?”

    -/-/-

    It’s already eleven-thirty when Sander wakes up in his hotel room the next day. The night with Lara is a distant, hazy dream. A strange heaviness descends upon him. Jacqui! He stares at the mirror where he last saw her making herself up. He realizes he loves no-one else but her.

    Did she perhaps message back? There’s nothing on the phone.

    Wait! Roaming’s switched off! Sanders turns it on, and a flurry of messages comes in:

    Maybe you could join me at the Pool Bar?

    No news is good news?

    I’m really sorry for yesterday. I took it out on you…

    When I shouldn’t have…

    I’m sorry.

    Your silence’s killing me.

    Maybe I deserve it…

    Reply me…

    Where are you?

    I’m wearing the golden bikini-bra you gave me… in front of a pink Martini like this time last year…

    The Pool Bar? Damn it. No! Jacqui! Stop. Don’t drink…

    Sander calls her frantically, but she won’t pick up.

    An ambulance siren shatters the resort lull and races towards the Pool Bar, now awash in flashing blue and red. Sander looks out the window. There’s a police-car too. The cops handcuff Carlos the barman and slam him on the car’s hood.

    A knock on the door jolts Sander. He opens and Lara’s there in a semi-transparent dress.

    “What you’ve done to her?”

    “Done what to whom?”

    “Jacqui! At the bar…”

    “Don’t look at me like that. I’ve long finished my shift. Carlos replaced me early, to make up for yesterday…”

    Reply
    • September 10, 2021 at 9:50 am
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      Very good writing and I didn’t see any of that coming, though I probably should have!

      I knew she was no good from the beginning, but I guess I got distracted and forgot that you were foreshadowing something ominous happening later, so good job covering the twist!

      A little risqué, but not too much, especially when you consider that I am kind of repressed when it comes to reading/writing!

      If you look at anything I have written, I sort of skirt around descriptions of bodies and clothing when it comes to women (I botched a good pun there I think). I am too scared that I will offend or cross a line and I am also intimidated by writing from a female perspective because I don’t want to mess it up…. but then that is worse in a way!

      Ever hear of the Bechdel Test?

      None of my stuff would pass so far, even though I consider myself a feminist!

      I think that women and men are equal in all ways and only gender roles hold people back, but you couldn’t tell that from my writing.

      In fact, you might assume that I am a misogynist because I have so many villainous female characters and an occasional damsel in distress!

      And how did you do that part with the texts? I dabbled in php and html, but I suck at it now and I can’t even control my fonts and font size!

      Reply
      • September 15, 2021 at 6:27 am
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        Hi Rumplefinkies (spelled that right?) Thank you for stopping by to read and comment on my story. I loved your pun “skirt around descriptions of bodies”, really did, you didn’t botch it! What can I say? I think PC and CC kill a writer, right? Kills just about anyone doing anything really. So ditch them! Write the way you feel; repressions are for sad people only, and there are lots of them nowadays. Ah, ok, so then you say you already do just that in your writing (if not in your life), a perfect mysogenist feminist haha. I’ll look for your stories then! I reckon they’re right up my alley. I like intrigue not equality. Don’t believe the equality brigades; women are superior to men, period. Equality! Come off it, king bee… I had to look up the Bechdel test, I didn’t know about it. Thank you for educating me! Wikipedia says it’s coming from a lesbian comic-strip “Dykes To Watch Out”, so, well… But I suppose it makes sense sometimes, women in real life talk about things other than men, too. Quite often actually, so there is a misrepresentation of reality in Hollywood.
        Ah, how to make text-lines in wordpress? Just add > before the lines in question!

        Reply
        • September 15, 2021 at 10:13 am
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          If you read my stuff, make sure that you only read the better ones lol.

          Reply
    • September 12, 2021 at 12:36 am
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      Loved the characters, I could feel them, they came alive. The twist that was stated but palmed off earlier, came true. Great writing. Twist was very Christie -esque, expected of course, but never really sure of the actual ‘Whodunit’. Wow.

      Reply
      • September 15, 2021 at 6:29 am
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        Thanks John (it’s John, right?) for your praise. Christie-esque – wow! That’s one trophy I’ll cherish (although I’m sure I’m far off from Agatha’s standards, but thanks just the same! Made me feel pampered!)

        Reply
    • September 13, 2021 at 1:32 pm
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      Lara, welcome to the mix. The only thing about your story that really doesn’t make sense to me, is why Lara kills people off without good reason. OK OK She’s a freakin’ psychopath, but even psychopaths are clever enough to avoid the law. And, your modifier about I didn’t serve the drink didn’t hold up for me.

      The writing is terrific, the grammar, the plot, the character build up, everything is good. It’s just that pesky business of I’m not sure this could have been done twice in the same bar without involving at least a bit of suspicion to fall on Lara. Wait, late addition. In the fourth line from the end Sander asks, “What you’ve done with her?” and I think it should be What have you done with her, or what’ve you done with her. Minor, just pointing it out.

      It’s funny, until I wrote the character’s name Lara a moment ago, I didn’t connect it to your name … if that’s your real name. And I’m certainly glad you don’t know where I live. Just saying.

      I’ve never once used my own name in one of my stories. Not even a minor character. Nothing wrong with it, just something I’ve never done. Fascinating.

      I loved the paragraphs regarding leaning over the bar and having Sander lose himself in his lust. Very well done. Ii’ve seen women who do that and do it well. That painted a very descriptive and lusty picture for me, too. My imagination ran away with itself. Good job.

      Roy

      Reply
  • September 15, 2021 at 6:31 am
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    Thanks Roy, that’s a great second pair of eyes you lent me, your review I mean. I’m pleased the “lusty bits” seem to work with you boys. That was a challenging part to write. As for the improbability that my MC could have got away with (literally) murder twice, well, to tell you the truth, I did have some rubber padding against that in my first draft. She says, when Sander brings it up, “The cops here? They drag the first suspect they lay their hands on to courts, if he’s found guilty they’re happy enough with that. Job done. Long as there’s something to show for their toil, you know. They don’t like to dig deeper. Prefer to go home early instead.” Then Sander remarks, “And where’s the police tape? How’s this bar even open again so soon?” “My boss rubs shoulders with important people in this town, and he prefers this bar open with me in it.” But then I removed all of that! Perhaps I shouldn’t have. I thought that leaving all that out would open up the story, in a way that the reader is still not sure if Lara killed Jacqui after all. Perhaps Carlos is the villain (but then I should have made him look like one, drop something along the way – I think the way he’s portrayed, he seems too innocent). Or perhaps Sander himself was behind Jacqui’s demise, maybe through a quick deal with Carlos, in his fit of lust for Lara. But he has a 180 degree change of heart after he wakes up from the night of sex and drink. But I don’t think that that whodunit bit played out too well, and Lara remains the obvious suspect in the end. Which means that you’re never gonna let me know where you live. Yes, I often name my MC’s Lara, especially if they are sexy and intriguing. I think I took after mom…

    Ah that pesky line… it was “I know what you’ve done to her!”, then I chopped off the “I know” bit, and turned it into a question and didn’t bother to read it again. Thanks for pointing it out!

    Reply
  • September 15, 2021 at 8:38 am
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    Good morning writers, the time period for submitting stories is now up.
    I’ll be posting the voting page in just a few hours.

    Reply
  • September 17, 2021 at 10:43 am
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    All – my apologies for the delay, I am working on the voting results and the next prompt.

    Here is the next prompt, I’ll have it up soon. 🙂

    Prompt Title: Dominoes
    Description: A story in which cause and effect are quite central to the plot. Perhaps something bad ends up leading to a good outcome after all. Or the opposite. Or to something surprising. There may be a case of “the butterfly effect” too, where the slightest of things causes disproportional consequences. One of the characters buying a pizza from Domino’s doesn’t count.
    Requirement: Somewhere in the text there should be the phrase: “One thing leads to another, and…”

    Reply
  • September 17, 2021 at 3:50 pm
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    Talk about a snake biting his own tail!
    I accidentally liked my own story up there and got a notification that made me all excited for about two seconds.

    Reply
  • September 17, 2021 at 4:08 pm
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    ok people – here are your winners:

    1st Place: Good Old-Fashioned Horse Sense by Ken Cartisano
    2nd Place: We’re All Adults Here by RM York
    3rd Place: The Fairy of Bohemia by John Filby
    4th Place: Major Distraction by Lara Crave
    5th Place: Pub Slither by Rumplefinkies

    The story with the favorite character is “Petal” in We’re All Adults Here by RM York
    And the story with the best dialogue is Good Old-Fashioned Horse Sense by Ken Cartisano

    Congrats to all!!

    Reply
    • September 17, 2021 at 6:33 pm
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      Hey All,
      Missed the voting, due to time differences in Australia. Am I able to vote earlier than when announced? I think my votes may have stirred up the ratings a bit. I like to think that my vote would be the one that changed the ranking. LOL.
      Congratulations to all the worthy winner. I love sharing the journey with you all through your words and stories. Bring on the next one.

      Reply
  • September 17, 2021 at 4:31 pm
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    Congrats Ken C., and everyone, Petal thanks everyone, too.

    Reply
  • September 17, 2021 at 5:25 pm
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    Congratulations Ken and all y’all – it was more compact, but a lot of fun! The few and the proud! Did I say that again too? I got to get more original.

    Reply

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