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Weekly Short Story Contests > Week 300! (February 22-29). Stories. Topic: ?

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message 1: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9054 comments As long as I'm writing controversial modern day drama stories, here's another one that's going to raise some eyebrows. It's called "Putting the Ass in Assault Rifle" and it goes like this:


Luke Easton, Father with Assault Rifle
Rachel Easton, Mother with Assault Rifle
Brian Easton, Luke and Rachel’s Baby Son
Chance Rivers, Restaurant Manager
Nikita Croft, Restaurant Clerk
Nameless Patrons

PROMPT CONFORMITY: We can write about anything we want this week!

SYNOPSIS: The Easton family decides to grab lunch at Monster Burger and the parents have assault rifles slung over their shoulders. After several patrons back away from the family in fear, Nikita informs Luke and Rachel that weapons are not allowed in the restaurant. When the gun owners become verbally abusive, Nikita summons Chance, who threatens to do everything from calling the police to wrestling the weapons out of their hands and breaking them over his knee.

message 2: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9054 comments That sounds like a pretty painful birth for the mother. Hehe!

message 3: by Mark (new)

Mark (crawdadddy) | 402 comments Garrison: Are you sure you is not from Texas.

message 4: by Mark (new)

Mark (crawdadddy) | 402 comments Domina ist mit Kind?

message 5: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9054 comments I'm pretty sure, Mark. Hehe!

message 6: by Mark (new)

Mark (crawdadddy) | 402 comments Guns are allowed in restaurants here, but God forbid you is indifferent.

message 7: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9054 comments I live in Washington State, so I don't have to worry about anybody bringing weapons to Subway or Quizno's.

message 8: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9054 comments AUTHOR: Garrison Kelly
TITLE: Putting the Ass in Assault Rifle
GENRE: Modern Day Drama
RATING: Somewhere between PG-13 and R due to swearing, violence, and sensitive political matter. In fact, it's so sensitive that I won't blame anybody who chooses not to read this. You've been warned.

Flipping hamburgers and cooking French fries at Monster Burger wasn’t doing much for Nikita Croft’s college dreams. She was only nineteen years old and was already feeling the stresses of someone four times her age. Her posture was hunched over, her eyes were baggy, and any smile she gave her customers was forced with all of her strength. Cooking unhealthy food wasn’t the bad part. Dealing with angry customers who didn’t get exactly what they wanted made Nikita wish she had a gun to put to her own head. She could picture her brains, skull, and short black hair splattering all over the restaurant walls to create her own version of modern art.

When the well-known Easton family came strutting through the glass doors, Nikita’s suicidal fantasies of using a gun on herself were replaced with eye-widening, posture-straightening fear. The chubby, buzz-cut having Luke Easton and his long blond haired wife Rachel each came in with assault rifles strapped to their backs. Their baby son Brian was being pushed in a stroller by Rachel.

The Easton family’s presence caused various patrons to slowly cower away in fear, hide behind their booths, and hide underneath their tables. Some of the clerks behind the counter had their wide eyes locked on the family while other clerks had them locked on Nikita wondering what she was going to do. She was in charge of the register at the moment, so it would only make sense that this responsibility would fall on her, weak voiced and trembling through she was.

Luke Easton squinted his eyes as he surveyed the patrons backing away from them in pants-wetting fear. “What? What the hell’s your guys’ problem? You don’t like these rifles we’ve got strapped to our backs? Tough shit! This is America! Get used to it!”

“Uh, actually, sir…” said Nikita in a shy voice before tenderly clearing her throat. “Weapons are not allowed in Monster Burger. If you want service, you’ll have to go back to your vehicle and…put them away.”

Some of the patrons were sneaking their way around on the floor and bolting out of the front doors. Others stayed in their crouched positions and whimpered helplessly. Nobody even thought about calling the cops on their smart phones due to the fear of incurring Luke and Rachel’s wrath.

“You listen here, little lady,” snapped Luke as he marched toward the counter. “Me and my family came here for some burgers and fries! We’re hungry as hell! Now you can either make them or we’re going to have a problem!”

“Sir, we will make whatever you want if you’d just…put your guns back in your vehicle,” said Nikita without even looking Luke in the eyes.

Rachel pushed baby Brian’s stroller up to the counter and got involved in the heated debate. “I don’t know what your problem is, lady, but we’re not leaving until we get our food! We’re standing up for our second amendment rights! If you don’t like what we’re doing, then we can get your ass deported back to Canada!”

Nikita’s dialogue was getting messy as she kneeled to the floor and cried her eyes out. Everybody counted on her to be the brave authoritarian, but nobody counted on the Easton family to bring weapons into the restaurant. She lifted her head up and turned to her fellow clerks before saying, “I’m sorry! I can’t do this anymore!”

“Hold on there, Nikita!” said the dress shirt and tie-wearing manager of Monster Burger, Chance Rivers. Despite the lack of enthusiasm Nikita Croft showed for her job on a regular basis, Chance had always been there for her whether she needed comfort or a short-term loan. Being a good boss to his employees was part of the reason so many would-be college students worked for him. This time was no different.

“Mr. and Mrs. Easton! I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask both of you to leave my restaurant!” said Chance with a gentle hand on Nikita’s shoulder and a firm tone to the rifle-wielding family.

“We’re not doing anything wrong!” complained Rachel. “We have just as much right to be here as all of these people!” Most of those people had cleared out of the restaurant in shirt-sweating and pants-pissing fear.

“The hell you do!” barked Chance as he jumped over the counter and got in Rachel and Luke’s faces. “You’re putting my customers and my employees in huge danger by bringing those things in here! Nobody wants to be around you two right now! I’m losing customers because nobody really wants to get accidentally shot! Or in your case, purposefully!”

Luke grabbed Chance’s shirt and slammed him against the counter while breathing heavily in and out and drooling with anger. The clerks and cooks began to scramble out of the kitchen and bolt towards the front door. Nikita on the other hand was curled up in the fetal position on the floor still shedding tears. Yes, she was suicidal earlier in the day, but that all changed when she started to see what death really looked like up close.

“I’m not going to have this argument with you, Mr. Boss Man!” yelled Luke through gritted teeth. “Either you cook our food or else we’re going to have problems!”

Chance’s frightened expression and shivering body were being beefed up with adrenaline. It was now or never for him, his employees, and his customers. The manager reached behind the corpulent Luke and tried to wrestle the gun away from him. But Luke was too powerful and showed it when he hurled Chance to the ground, causing his ribs to ache and violent coughs to sound off across the restaurant.

“Luke, calm down. It’ll be okay, sweetie,” said a nervous Rachel, who was backing away slowly. She wasn’t changing political alignments, she was a shivering mess.

Luke armed himself with his assault rifle and clicked the pump handle. He looked down at the injured Chance Rivers with disdain and fiery hatred. “I’m getting sick of you Yankee liberal motherfuckers taking my rights away! I never wanted to fire this thing off today, but I’ll be glad to…”

Luke’s raging oratory was disrupted by his gun accidentally going off. Nikita and Chance held their ears and screamed in both pain and terror. Rachel, on the other hand, looked down at her baby stroller and saw the most horrifying thing a mother could imagine. She silently shed tears and dropped to her knees, shaking and cowering over the accidental death of Brian. She slowly unhooked her assault rifle and tossed it to the ground.

Everything had fallen silent with Chance and Nikita looking on in horror. Luke was shaking as he slowly made his way to his kneeling and silently praying wife Rachel. He gently put one of his powerful hands on her shoulder only to have her brush it away and yell, “Don’t touch me!”

As Luke fell to his knees and sobbed as well, Chance grabbed onto the counter and heaved himself to his feet. With his hands on his ribs and a limp in his step, he approached Nikita and told her to use the phone in his office to dial 9-1-1. With a nod of approval and her head hung in sorrow, Nikita did as she was told.

Luke lifted his heavy head and looked at Chance with a face full of tears and a nose full of snot. “Well? Go ahead. Say it, Mr. Boss Man. Say that you were right and we were wrong. Tell me how proud you are of being right.”

“I’m not going to say any of those things,” said Chance. He limped his way over to the sobbing Easton couple and put both of his hands on their shoulders in a comforting way. “I’m sorry for your loss,” said Chance in a genuine tone. “If you want to say a prayer for baby Brian, I’m not going to try and stop you. The police are on their way, though, so if you’re going to do it, use that time wisely.”

Luke and Rachel nodded their approval at Chance before bowing their heads and saying their final prayers.

Meanwhile, Nikita dragged herself to the main dining area and looked at her boss with red, swollen, baggy eyes. “Mr. Rivers? You’ve been an awesome boss to me. You’re an awesome boss now. But I can’t do this anymore. I quit.”

The sullen expression on Chance’s face said it all: “I don’t blame you, Nikita. Nobody blames you at all.” The two of them actually shared a hug before Nikita languidly made her way out of the restaurant for the last time. She thought about all the heartache she had to endure of dealing with customers who were just as bad as the Eastons. Were there better jobs out there? Of course. Were there better bosses than Chance Rivers? Probably not. Nikita Croft wouldn’t spend the rest of the day worrying about college money. It was hard to read bank statements and take them seriously with both eyes full of burning tears.

message 9: by Raven (new)

Raven (Reibunriinta) The Hero's reward by Raven/Reibun

Word count: 2998 words

Rating: PG

Takao whistled as he walked to his girlfriend Minami's house. He hadn't seen her in a few days, and was anxious to see her again. Absently he patted the little box in his pocket, the box that held a little diamond ring, the box that held their future. He smiled as he imagined what her reaction would be to his proposal. She'd say yes, he knew that for sure. What he didn't know was when he would ask her, or if he'd ever even get the chance.

When her house came into view, he spotted two big thugs pounding on her door and shouting. His first instinct was to run up and attack them from behind, but luckily he was smart enough to know they would kill him if he tried; they were ripped and three times his size. Instead he looked for a way to get closer to the house without being spotted.

He walked slowly in the opposite direction, and then circled the yard and headed towards the back of the house. He rounded the corner to the side of the house and saw Minami sitting against it, her emergency kit bag next to her, hugging her knees with tears streaming down her face. She looked up at him; her chocolate brown eyes were wide with fear and filled with tears.

"Takao." She breathed, her face brightening for a moment before returning to its fearful state. "I need you to promise me something."

"What?!" He asked worriedly, his eyes filling with tears from just seeing her like this. "Minami, baby, what's going on?! What do they want?!" he pointed behind him, towards the sound of the men still banging on her door, in concern as he gazed at his future wife.

"They're after the child in there." Minami whispered as she wiped the tears from her eyes. "This little girl came to me this morning, she said that she'd been kidnapped and those men were chasing her." She took a deep breath to calm herself and wiped the sweat from her brow. "I've been protecting her all day, I was about to try and bring her home, but they caught up with us." Tears filled her eyes once more. "She's still in the house! And I don't know how to save her!"

Takao sighed. "If we had a distraction, if we could send them on a wild goose chase, then we could go into the house while they were gone, get the girl, and then run out before they get back." Inwardly he groaned; this was far easier said than done.

Minami's eyes widened and she shakily stood up. "That's perfect!" she exclaimed. From her bag she pulled out a large doll made out of hay and held it up for him to examine. "Up close it's obviously not her." She whispered as she wrapped a blanket around it. "But from far away? With those thick brains of theirs...they'll never suspect it." She smiled as she cradled it in her arms as though it was a real child.

Takao couldn't believe what he was hearing. "You mean you're going to run out there?" he asked incredulously. "And you're going to let those thugs chase you...Minami...those guys are dangerous! They could kill you!" Why was all this happening to him now that everything seemed perfect in his life?

She smiled "I know. But it'll give you enough time to save her...if I have to give my life for her...well it's the least I can do." She grinned despite the tears that filled her eyes. "Promise me you'll save her? Promise me you'll bring her home."

Takao sighed miserably as he gazed into her eyes, possibly for the last time. "I promise." He said. "Now kiss me goodbye...And promise me you'll come back?"

Her smile faltered slightly, and with the look she gave him, he knew she didn't expect to be coming back. She drew nearer to him and they partook in their last embrace. Their lips gently brushed against each other and she stood up taller as she pressed her lips against his. The kiss lasted a minute, but not nearly enough for them to come to terms with what was happening, what she was about to do.

She started to walk away but he grabbed her hand to hold her back. "Wait!" he exclaimed and she turned around to face him with tear-filled eyes. "Why are you doing this? You barely know this girl? I...I need to know."

She beamed back at him, her eyes filling with purpose. "I have to do what's right." She exclaimed her smile turning into a grin. "Besides, you don't need a reason to help someone." She winked, and then she ran off, possibly never to be seen again.

"Damn!" he hated it when she used his own words against him. "Mini, you better come back!" In that moment, he could hear the thugs cry out and the frenzied sound in the grass of them running after his beloved girlfriend. "Damn it!" He cursed again, and then after a moment he remembered his promise. "Oh yeah." He thought "That poor girl is still inside."

Calmly he rounded the corner and walked to the front of the house. He retrieved the spare key from where he kept it in his pocket, right next to her ring, and unlocked the door.

"Damn it!" he called out as he stepped inside; he was now carrying a ring he might never get to use. When he heard the sound of someone running and the slam of a door, he sighed. "Now you've done it." He thought to himself bitterly. "And now you have to go find her!"

After searching each room in the small house, he entered the kitchen. "You can come out." He called out, hoping she'd trust him. "I promise I'm not going to hurt you." There was no response. He sighed and quieted down. Only then did he hear the sound of deep breathing coming from one of the bottom cabinets. With another sigh he walked over to it and opened the door.

The girl screamed and scooted close to the back of the cabinet. She was tiny, probably no older than two or three. How she'd escaped those big thugs he couldn't imagine. Anyhow, he still had to convince her to come out; forcing her to do anything wouldn't be a good idea. She had to trust him before he could really protect her.

"Listen," he knelt down so she could get a better look at him. "I promise I'm not going to hurt you." He smiled reassuringly. "I'm friends with Minami, the nice lady that lives here. And she told me to take you home while she sends those meanies on a wild goose chase. Do you like geese?"

The girl nodded and smiled. "Ducks are like gooses. I like you....I can tell." She said in a surprisingly good voice; maybe she was older and just a little short for her age.

Takao grinned. "Good girl! Now, we have to hurry and get out of here before those scoundrels figure out what we're doing and come back. Can you come out of there now?"

The girl nodded and crawled out of the cabinet. When he saw her in better light his heart fell. Her cropped brown hair was unevenly cut, her cloths were ripped and faded into gray, and she was covered in dirt and ash. When she noticed he was taking in her appearance she twirled around as if her ugly cloths were a princess's dress.

He laughed. "You're adorable!" he remarked. "Now come on." He scooped her up and walked towards the front of the house again. She cuddled into him and he immediately felt attached to her.

"How old are you anyway?" he asked as they reached the front door.

"I'm four and a half...I spend a lot of time in libraries...that's why I talk so well...I've practiced reading aloud to myself. Do you like the way I talk? I can pretend to talk less and not as well if you want." She explained proudly, and it was certainly something to be proud about.

Takao laughed; she was really starting to remind him of Minami. "Nah." He smiled as they walked across the lawn. "You should stay the way you are. I like you that way."

"Okay!" she exclaimed. "I can do that! I like me that way too! My name's Natsuki by the way, now it's your turn to tell me your name." She grinned.

Just then, Takao spotted a man in a suit walking towards the lawn. He quickly looked around for a place to hide and darted to the nearby cluster of trees. He crouched down and put a finger to his lips, signaling Natsuki to be quiet.

The man marched up to the house and looked around incredulously. "It's too quiet!" he exclaimed. "Why haven't those idiots reported in!? They were due an hour ago!" He turned around and took off back down the yard. "If we fail this gig, we'll all be killed!" he exclaimed, and then he was gone.

After a minute of waiting, they both stood up and Natsuki returned to her regular smiling self. "Takao." He answered her question as though they'd never been interrupted. "My name is Takao... Minami said you knew the way back to your parents? Where are they exactly? "

Natsuki beamed up at him. "I'll show you!" she exclaimed excitedly. "But it's a few towns over in Bravesville...So we might have to take a train." She frowned a bit.

"Bravesville...that's pretty far from here...it might be a three days trip...two if we are lucky." He nodded reaching a decision. "Right, well if we want to get there in time we'll have to leave now. The train station isn't far from here; in fact, if we cut through the forest we'll get there in about an hour."

"Right!" Natsuki exclaimed with a grin. "Then let's go!" she said, and marched off towards the forest's entrance nearby.

Their trek was short, but it certainly wasn't uneventful. If Takao hadn't been through this forest before, they would have been lost for hours, but luckily he knew the way fairly well.

Everything seemed to be going smoothly until Natsuki, who had run ahead, came running back to him as she screamed.

"Natsuki, what happened, what's wrong?!" He demanded in a fast voice.

"B..b...bear!" she shrieked and jumped up and down impatiently.

"Oh..." Takao frowned. "Okay then, we'll have to be a little careful going through the rest of the forest." He said.

Natsuki gave him an incredulous look. "A little careful?!" she repeated in disbelief. "I just saw a bear, and you think we should be a little careful?!" She looked around nervously as though it would attack her any moment. "Pick me up." She ordered "this place is giving me the willies!"

He scooped her up and set her on his shoulder. She anxiously wrapped her arm around his neck for balance and they set off in the opposite direction.

"We can avoid the bear if we go out of our way a little bit." Takao explained. He frowned. "I would usually fight it...but I don't want to endanger you."

"mmhmm." Natsuki mumbled. "Sure...yeah I'll believe that..." she muttered sarcastically, making Takao laugh.

"You really are much smarter than you look...you know that?" He asked as they neared the forest exist.

"And how exactly do a look?" she retorted "Like a babbling idiot?"

Takao shook his head "Like a little girl." He said, and then she grew awfully quiet as though he'd offended her.

When they stepped out of the forest, and into the sunlight, Natsuki sighed with relief. "Finally!" she exclaimed. "I thought we'd never get out of there!" She took dramatic deep breaths as though she'd nearly suffocated in the forest. "Is the train station nearby?" she asked, looking around at the bustling town square.

Takao nodded and pointed west. "It's just this way; we'll be there in just a few minutes."

When they arrived at the train station Takao purchased two tickets to a town just north of Bravesville, this way if someone tried to follow them, they would go to the wrong place.

When they entered the train Natsuki twirled around in excitement. "This is my first time being on a train!" she exclaimed. She paused to consider something with a frown. "Well...I was on here before...when they kidnapped me...but I was in a suitcase at the time...so I don't think it counts." She walked to the nearest compartment and sat down.

Tiredly Takao sat down across from her. "So uh...Natsuki...any idea why those thugs kidnapped you?"

Natsuki just shrugged. "Nope...I can't think of anything...they won't get any ransom money...that's for sure."

message 10: by Raven (new)

Raven (Reibunriinta) (Hero's' reward continued)

Takao frowned in bemusement. "Not much money at home then?" he asked. "My family is the same." He remarked, though he couldn't get rid of the nagging feeling that for her, there was more to it than just that.

Natsuki frowned and looked around nervously. "Well...my parents are..." She was interrupted by screams.

"Someone just broke onto the train!" a woman shouted a few compartments away.

"Damn!" Takao exclaimed. "Sorry, Tsuki, we'll talk later. Right now we have to get away!"

Natsuki sighed and stood up. "Let's go" she said opening the compartments door and stepping out.

Takao nodded and followed her out. "We have to get to the back of the train." He whispered to her. And they took off running towards the back.

The very back of the train was a cargo room, and it had boxes and suitcases filling most of the room. Takao quickly scanned the room. He could hear the loud voices of the thugs coming closer to the back, fighting over whether they'd gotten on the right train or not.

He spotted a big box in the corner and ripped the tape off of it, flinging it open to reveal a bunch of paper and bottles of ink. He turned to Natsuki and gave her an apologetic look. "Sorry, in advance." He said picking her up and shoving her into the box. "Make sure to be quiet." He said as he hastily put the tape back on the box. And then he searched for a place he could hide. Just before the door burst open, he dived behind a stack of boxes.

The door nearly broke as it was thrust open. The two thugs entered the room and gazed around suspiciously. "I thought you said you saw them running into here?!"

"I did!" His partner insisted. "They were just here! I swear!!"

The thug grunted in response. "Sure you did...and they just flew away? Like a little birdy? Really, Marley, your idiotism astounds me sometimes!"

They broke into a fight and stormed from the room. After a minute Takao walked over Natsuki's box and pulled it open.

Natsuki gasped and stood up. "Finally!' she exclaimed. "I thought I'd die in that box!"

Takao sighed. "I said I was sorry! We should probably stay back here for a while; they'll probably leave the train soon."

Natsuki climbed out of the box and sat down with her back against it. "This is gonna' be a long trip huh?" she asked with a frown. "I hope seeing mom and dad is worth it." She yawned, and then curled up into a ball. "Well, I'm going to sleep. Tell me if we get attacked again." She said and then closed her eyes, leaving Takao to ponder what would come next.

They arrived at Bravesville two days later and without incident. As they stepped off the train, Natsuki sucked in the fresh air with a grin. "Finally...it's been so long since I've been home."

Takao frowned; he kept getting the nagging feeling that he was missing something important. Something about Natsuki's behavior wasn't adding up. "Right..." he said his frown growing deeper. "Let's go find your parents then."

Natsuki nodded and beamed up at him with excitement. "Alright, Follow me!" she exclaimed and darted off, nearly out of sight.

He ran after her and his frown grew deeper and deeper as they turned corner after corner and past all of the houses and neighborhoods nearby. Finally she stopped, and when Takao looked around and noticed where they were, his heart stopped right along with her. They were standing in the middle of a graveyard.

Natsuki knelt down in front of the tombstone that marked both her parent's graves. "I wish I had flowers." She whispered to them. "But, anyway, I'm safe now. But you probably already know that. You've been watching over me right? Just like you promised?" Tears filled both her eyes and Takao's alike.

"I know you are." She whispered. "I'll never forget you guys. I've been doing lots of reading, just like mom said I should...I've been mostly living in the library...I hope that's okay." She rubbed her eyes to get rid of the tears. "I love you guys...Goodbye." She said and then she stood up and turned around.

"Well what now?" she asked Takao, who was still gaping at her in surprise. She'd been an orphan this whole time! And now she had nowhere else to go. Takao had no clue what to do next, should he take her to an orphanage? Should he raise her as his own?

Suddenly he remembered Minami, and what she'd said to him just two days before. "You don't need a reason to help someone." She'd said. Those words told him exactly what he needed to do. An orphanage wasn't what she needed, she needed a family. She needed him and Minami.

He turned to leave with Natsuki at his side. "You wanna' go help me save Minami?" he asked her.

"Yeah!" she exclaimed excitedly, and they left the gloomy scene behind. And that was the day that Takao became a father to the cutest little girl he'd ever seen.

message 11: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 90 comments Title: Once Upon a Time in Nocturnal: The Jessie Falcon Adventures #2
Author: Ruth Erskine
Genre: Intermediate/Sci-Fi
Rating: PG
Word Count: 2,375

Jessie Falcon hadn’t been the pilot on The Poseidon for very long, so there were still a lot of things she was figuring out. The most confusing thing she’d come across so far was why there was a copilot seat. She could reach all the controls she needed to fly from where she sat, so it seemed virtually useless.
That morning, however, she figured out its purpose. The button to make the intercom work could only be reached from that seat. She’d been planning this ever since she found out the ship had an intercom, which was about three days ago, and she’d been rehearsing her lines over and over in her head. There wasn’t any way she was going to let something like that get in the way.
It would’ve been easier if she’d realized it before she’d started descent to their destination planet. She couldn’t put the ship on auto for this part, and she couldn’t take her hands off the controls. She tried working the controls with one hand and reaching all the way across with the other, but her arms weren’t long enough. And the jolt the ship gave let her know that wasn’t a good idea. Finally, Jessie swung her leg up on the console and reached her booted foot over. It was a simple button, so she was able to press it with her toe, and was rewarded by a static buzz.
Jessie had heard countless pilots on tourist ships above her home planet, and knew exactly how to mimic the way they always talked. Grinning, she began.
“Good morning, gentlemen! It’s another lovely day aboard The Poseidon as we make our descent onto the planet Parcasia, or, more specifically, the city of Nocturnal.”
She paused and heard the rest of the crew stirring in the back of the ship.
“Now, I’m sure you’ve heard of Nocturnal, but maybe you don’t know where it gets its name. See, the city derives its name from the small, birdlike creatures that infest it, called Turnals. I don’t know why they put the ‘noc’ at the beginning; you’ll have to ask a Nocturnalite. Now, before you leave the ship, there’s some rules you’ll want to keep in mind. Number one: The Nocturnalites frown highly upon facial hair of any sort. So I’d suggest shaving off those mustaches or goatees you’ve been growing, unless you want to be attacked by an angry mob. Number two: It’s customary to perform their formal greeting when you come in contact with a Nocturnalite. How this is done is, you spread your arms out to the side, stand on one leg, and chant ‘heya, heya, heya, heya’. Continue it until someone punches you in the face, and then you finish with a bow.”
“What are you doing?” Came a voice from behind her.
Jessie dropped her foot to the floor and turned a little in her seat to see Captain Hank Lackey. “Good morning, Captain,” she grinned.
“You’re in a good mood this morning,” Lackey remarked, and tossed her a ration bar for breakfast.
Jessie caught it, and opened the wrapper with her teeth. “Just setting the mood. I actually have five more rules I was gonna say…”
“I think two’s enough for now,” Lackey replied, and sat down in the empty copilot seat.
Jessie chuckled. “Oh, whatever.”
“Land us on the south side,” Lackey said. He paused before adding, “You do know where Nocturnal gets its name, right?”
“No, I don’t think it’s because of birdlike creatures, if that’s what you’re asking. I’d heard it’s always dark here, no matter what time of day it is. I think somebody told me a scientific explanation sometime, but I really didn’t pay attention.”
“So I take it you’ve never been?” Lackey asked.
“No. Heard loads about it, though. Is it true that it’s completely neutral here?”
Lackey nodded. “Yeah. Government can’t touch it, and neither can the rebels. That can be nice, but can also mean there’s literally no law of any kind except what you enforce yourself. It doesn’t matter who you are, though, if you’ve got a ship, you’re always going to end up at Nocturnal sometime. Hey, while me and Fritz fuel her up, you and Phil can walk around the main square. Just be careful. We’ll catch up with you later.”

Once the ship was powered down, the four of them stepped out. Jessie had heard that it always rained here, but it wasn’t at the moment. She decided better safe than sorry, and tied her raincoat by its sleeves around her waist.
The place was true to its name. Jessie hadn’t ever seen somewhere so dark. They made up for it in artificial lighting, though. Street signs and billboards and vendors’ stalls were all illuminated.
And the place was bustling. There were more people than Jessie could count, from all over the galaxy. People shouting out their wares, people shouting after thieves who’d stolen their wares, people buying souvenirs. It was a real zoo. There were tourists, as well as your typical crews aboard ships. She saw several groups of eccentrically dressed people being led by a guide through the city.
“So, you’ve probably never had a galactic ice star before, right?” She heard Phil come up beside her. “You can only get them here. Come on, let’s look around a little before we’ve gotta go.”
Jessie started down the street with him, stopping to glance at a stall here and there. Phil, on the other hand, was on a direct mission to find someone selling galactic ice stars.
“Hey hold up a second!” she called after him. She stopped at a booth selling hats. What caught her eye was a dome-shaped, lightweight metal hat, the same color green as the shirt she always wore. Picking it up, she slipped it on her head to find it fit perfectly. “Look at this, isn’t it cool?” she grinned.
“I guess,” Phil replied, coming over. “What are you going to do with that?”
“Wear it,” Jessie replied. “How much is it?”
“Five credits,” the stall vendor told her.
After Jessie paid, Phil finally found his booth and they each got a galactic ice star. They sat on a bench to eat them for a few minutes, but then she heard Phil say, “Oh no.”
“What’s the matter?” Jessie asked, looking up. Well that didn’t look good. Three people, two women and a man, were heading directly toward them, and the looks on their faces showed it wasn’t for a friendly chat.
“Let’s go,” Phil grabbed Jessie by the arm and stood up from the bench, hastily heading the other direction.
Jessie went with him, but couldn’t help but ask, “Who are they?”
“Leah Raleigh,” Phil replied.
“Who’s Leah Raleigh?” Before Phil could answer, they turned a corner and two more thugs stepped in front of them holding blaster rifles.
Jessie spun around, only to see the other three had caught up and were blocking them from behind.
“Phil Taylor,” one of the women sneered, and Jessie figured that must be Leah Raleigh. “So since you’re here, I should find your captain as well. I take it Hank Lackey doesn’t know I’m looking for him, or else he wouldn’t have dared show his face in Nocturnal.”
“We’re just getting fueled up, we’re not looking for trouble,” Phil said.
“I’m sure you’re not,” Leah Raleigh smiled sarcastically. “Abdul, Jeremiah, take them back to the ship.”
Jessie suddenly realized she’d left her blaster on board The Poseidon, and seriously regretted it. She’d put up a fight for sure if she had it, but wasn’t honestly sure what she’d be fighting for. She didn’t know if this Leah Raleigh person was going to try and kill them or not.
As they were dragged away by the two thugs, Jessie almost opened her mouth to say something several times, but each time Phil shushed her. They were taken on board a ship about three times the size of The Poseidon, and tossed in what seemed to be an old storeroom. The door was locked.
Finally, Jessie turned to Phil. “All right, so what’s going on, and who is that?”
“Leah Raleigh,” Phil looked at her like she was crazy.
“And who’s Leah Raleigh?”
“I thought Fritz told you about her.”
“Well, apparently he didn’t,” Jessie crossed her arms. “I’ve never heard of her before.”
Phil scratched the back of his head. “Well, you know how a lot of smugglers have to start out by borrowing money for a ship?”
“Great, so she’s a loan shark.”
“Yeah, sort of.”
Before Jessie could say anything else, the door was opened and Fritz was tossed forcefully in.
“Hey what’s going on out there?” Phil immediately asked.
“Raleigh’s claiming Lackey didn’t give her enough on our last payment. She wants it all now, up front.” Fritz replied. “I don’t know what she’s gonna do to him, but it’s not gonna be good. We’ve gotta get out there.” He immediately started to check the door for weaknesses.
“So how come you didn’t tell me about this Leah Raleigh person?” Jessie asked.
“What?” Fritz turned. “I thought Lackey told you about her.”
“Well Phil thought you did.”
“You know about her now I guess,” was Fritz’s reply, and he turned his attention back to the door. “There’s no way we can get this thing down, not even by the hinges.”

message 12: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 90 comments Once Upon a Time in Nocturnal Continued

“What if we convince them to open it?” Phil suggested.
“How are we going to do that?” Fritz crossed his arms, and then his eyes fell on Jessie. “Hey, you’re good at that!”
“Good at what?” Jessie asked, slightly concerned.
“Talking. Try and say something convincing. Me and Phil will stand out of the way to knock the guards out.”
“Oh,” Jessie replied. “All right, here goes, I guess.” This should actually be pretty fun, as long as she didn’t mess up. She took a second to figure out what to say, and then walked up to the door, shouting through it. “Hey! Anybody out there? Hey!”
“What do you want?” the guard’s voice sounded back.
“There’s been a big mistake! Listen, I’m not supposed to be in here! I was just walking down the street when you guys rounded me up, and I have no idea what’s going on! I’m supposed to be on a taxi ship to Kissamae, and it’s gonna be leaving any minute. I don’t even know when the next one’s headed out, and it’s a real emergency. I’ve gotta get there as soon as possible.” She glanced over to the side, and Phil gave her a silent thumbs-up.
“Why didn’t you tell us earlier?” The guard called back skeptically.
Luckily, Jessie had thought about that. “Well this guy you brought me in with, who apparently knows you guys, kept shushing me! I couldn’t even get a word in edgewise. You saw him! Come on, I’ve gotta get out of here!”
There was a long pause, and then, “I’m going to need to talk to Captain Raleigh.”
“No wait! Really there’s no time. Really I’ve gotta get out of here.” She paused for effect. “Hey, it seems like you know these other two guys, but I’m pretty sure you didn’t recognize me. I’m really not with them, okay? I’ve gotta get back to that ship before it’s too late!”
There was silence, and then, “Where are the other two?”
“I knocked them out,” Jessie replied. “That’s the only way I’m being able to talk to you right now. They’re over in the corner.”
“Stand back.”
She heard the noise of him keying in a code, and glanced over at Phil and Fritz.
The door swung open, and the guard stepped in. “All right come quickly,” he said, but Fritz brought a crate down on his head, knocking him senseless.
“Wow,” Jessie said. “I guess I am good at this. I really didn’t think that would work.”
The three of them made their way into the hallway, on the lookout for other guards.
“Where do they have him?” Phil whispered.
“Cargo bay,” Fritz whispered back. “This way.” He took the lead.
Jessie stopped to relieve the unconscious guard of his rifle, not wanting to be without a weapon again.
Before long, and between hiding behind corners to avoid other guards, they made it to the cargo bay. Lackey was handcuffed and surrounded by Leah Raleigh’s men. Raleigh herself was standing in front of him.
“What are we going to do?” Jessie asked quietly from their position behind some crates. She heard Raleigh talking to Lackey about money or something.
“I’m figuring that out,” Fritz responded, and the three of them were silent. Jessie took this time to pay attention to what Raleigh and Lackey were discussing.
“I swear, we’ll have the money, I’ve just got to do one more job. But I can’t do that when you’ve got my crew locked up.” Lackey said.
“You’ll have it for sure. Ten days is all you’ve got. Take longer than that, and you’ll wish you’d never been born. And don’t try to run, ‘cause we’ll find you.” Raleigh said.
“Wow, she’s not the best at intimidation is she?” Jessie whispered.
“Shh,” Phil replied.
“You’ll have your money in nine,” Lackey said calmly. “But like I said, I’m going to need my crew for that.”
Raleigh nodded. “Untie him,” she motioned to one of her men. “And you two go get his crew from the storeroom.”
Jessie, Phil, and Fritz exchanged glances. “Do we go back?” Jessie asked softly.
“There’s no time,” Fritz answered.
“Well she might not be too happy to see we escaped,” Phil added.
Fritz chewed his lip, in thought. “Well, let’s risk it.” Together they stood up and revealed themselves, and Lackey started to laugh.

When they were safely back on The Poseidon, Jessie took her seat in the cockpit and started up the ship.
“Set direction for Cassius,” Lackey entered behind her. “There’s a job there, where we should get enough to pay her to be off our backs for at least a month.”
“So, how come you never told me about her?” Jessie asked, swiveling her seat to look at him.
“What?” Lackey furrowed his eyebrows. “I thought Phil had.”

message 13: by Raven (new)

Raven (Reibunriinta) Ruth, that story is AMAZING! <3 Like seriously, I was sucked in the whole time! XD

message 14: by Edward (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments So disappointed week 300's prompt wasn't 'spartan', but I'll try to come up with something new...

message 15: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9054 comments Don't worry, Edward, you'll have plenty of opportunities to kick helpless messengers down a bottomless pit. ;)

message 16: by Edward (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments Very good. I'm planning to put some in-jokes for you in my story this week. Perhaps some references to Clerks...

message 17: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9054 comments Ooo, that sounds good, Edward! Remember: thirty-seven is the magic number. ;)

message 18: by Edward (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments Don't spoil the surprise! Plus, that's only if you count your own, otherwise it's only 36. :D

message 19: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9054 comments Hehehehehehe!

message 20: by C. J., Atm Seeker in the "Lin Kuei" (last edited Feb 24, 2016 01:58AM) (new)

C. J. Scurria (goodreadscomcj_scurria) | 4214 comments Love this. I have skipped this past week only because I thought my story was barely connected to that topic listed. I just think harshly about my own work I guess.

Now I have another chance, yay!

message 21: by Rachel (new)

Rachel Heinen | 134 comments The Fall
by Rachel
Word Count: 610

Mayer and I walked through the startlingly white forest with the trees powdered in snow.

“Your hair matches the snow,” Mayer said touching my light blonde, almost white hair.

“It’s not that light,” I said insecurely tugging my blue hat down farther down over my hair.

“Kline, you’re beautiful. Your hair is white like the snow that patters down around us. It’s almost as beautiful as you.”

“Why are you always so nice to me?” I asked him.

“You are the kind of girl who needs someone to be nice to her. Besides you tolerate me. I’m an introverted, awkward guy with a stupid name.”

He was right I did need a friend. I hadn’t had any friends since I was twelve and my father got arrested for serial murder and my mother killed herself. Since then I’d been bounced from home to home. It wasn’t like I had anything to do with my father’s murders or my mother’s death, but my friends and other family seemed to think otherwise. I was sixteen now, but I felt like I was a lot older. Time seemed to pass slower when you were all alone.

“Why did you bring me out here, Mayer?”

“I wanted to show you something,” he said.

I sighed. This was just like Mayer. He dragged me out of bed before the sun just to take me into the woods without telling me what I had to see.

“How much farther?” I complained.

“Not much,” he said with a smile.

He was right it was only moments later when we passed through the thicket of trees out into the early morning sunshine. We were standing on the edge of a cliff.

The view from the cliff was more amazing than I could’ve imagined it. The sky was ice blue tinged with a tiny bit of pink from the sunrise. The mountain was packed with snow and ice. A white fog laid in the valley of the mountain. Hints of other colors flashed out all around me. Yellow of the sun. White puffy clouds drifting across the sky. They looked close enough to touch.

“It’s beautiful,” I muttered.

“My sister, Ella, used to take me here before she died.”

He never talked about his sister. He took her death hard. It was one of the reasons he spent so much time alone. He never trusted anyone after her death. I supposed he trusted me now.

Mayer started to talk again, “I think she’d be happy you are here now.”

I smiled.

He began to kiss me. It was the perfect first kiss. Just the kind of kiss I’d always imagined before my dad got arrested and my mother died. The kind of kiss I’d read about in books and watched in movies. The kind of kiss I’d always wanted.

Suddenly, I was jolted towards the edge of the cliff.

“What are you doing?” I screamed as Mayer pushed me toward the cliff.

“Revenge,” he smiled. “You’re father killed my sister.”

I started to cry. Not Mayer, too. I didn’t know which hurt worse, what my father did to Ella or what Mayer was going to do to me.

Mayer gave me a final shove. I didn’t scream as I fell into the abyss. I watched as Mayer’s face got smaller and smaller. He didn’t smile. He just stood and watched as I fell. The fall didn’t take long. It was a matter of seconds I’m sure. To me it felt like the years I would never get and the comfort I would never feel. It felt like happiness I’d never find. To me those short few seconds were the life I’d never had, because soon I got the ground. I had no life at all.

message 22: by John (new)

John Jones (johnijones) Hi:
If I want to enter a short story in the contest, do I just post it here in this group like a comment?
Do I post the cover also?
How do I enter a short story in the contest?
John I. Jones

message 23: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 90 comments Haha, yes I finally got number two posted!

message 24: by Edward (last edited Feb 24, 2016 03:42PM) (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments Title : Ajar
Author : Edward Davies
Genre : Horror
Word Count : 1506
Rating : PG

Randall had always had an unrelenting fear of open doors. He always thought to himself that if a door were to be left open, something could sneak through it and get him. It all went back to the times his grandfather used to tell him stories as a child. His grandfather was old, and he’d get bored reading standard bedtime stories, so he used to make up his own by looking around the room for something to inspire him, and the story was invariably a scary one. Sometimes the inspiration came from a toy, which Randall would from then on be terrified of. That was okay, because parents could get rid of toys, but they can’t get rid of doors, and Randall’s grandfather had a million scary stories that involved doors.

The best Randall’s parents could do was to ensure that all the doors in the house were closed when he went to bed, even when they were telling him bedtime stories. They’d have to close themselves up in his bedroom until he fell asleep, then they had to sneak out, closing the door behind them. Even wardrobes had to be kept shut for fear Randall would wake in the night from a nightmare about a bogeyman trying to get him in the night.

As he had gotten older, his fear hadn’t really alleviated. He still liked to keep the doors closed while he slept, thinking that if a monster did try to get him, he’d at least have a warning from the door creaking open which might give him just enough time to grab the hockey stick he kept beside his bed.

At the age of fourteen, Randall’s parents were going out for a rare evening on their own. All his grandparents had long since passed on, and a babysitter had been organised to take care of him. She was called Tabby; eighteen, leggy, and busty, and Randall had a massive crush on her. He knew he was far too young for her, but that didn’t stop him wondering what it would be like to kiss her.

Once his parents left for the evening, Randall was allowed to watch television. It made life for the babysitter much easier if he just sat quietly in front of the television, giving her time to play Candy Crush or whatever on her smart phone. Randall didn’t understand why people wasted so much time on their phones, but like everyone else in his year at school, he’d soon learn.

Time dragged on as Randall watched whatever he wanted on television; episodes of Grimm, The Walking Dead, and Supernatural were amongst his choices that evening. It probably wasn’t the best idea for him to be watching horror shows, but he’d recently thought to himself that a little bit of exposure therapy might do him some good.

But all it did was make him even more scared.

When he felt his eyelids starting to droop, he flicked off the television, heading off to bed. Tabby the babysitter didn’t even notice as he headed up the stairs, going into his room and closing the door behind him. He checked that all the windows were closed tight, all his drawers were flush with their units, and that his wardrobe was completely closed across. Only then did he start changing into his pyjamas and eventually he clambered into his bed.

He started to drift off to sleep, thinking about all the scary creatures that he’d seen on television that evening, and prayed to whatever deity he could think of to protect him from any monsters that might try to get him in the night. Ever so slowly, his eyes started to close, and soon he was completely asleep...

A sudden noise woke Randall with a start, and he stared into the darkness of his room. It was hard to see, and everything seemed okay to him at first. The noise was probably just a dog or a cat knocking over a bin outside. Randall started to settle back down into his pillow, when he suddenly noticed something shining near the foot of his bed. Sitting upright, he stared deep into the darkness at the light, noticing at last that it was coming from his wardrobe...

...and that the wardrobe door was ajar!

Randall reached for the hockey stick, his fingers slowly lacing around the worn pieces of tape he’d wrapped round the handle over the years. He picked it up, gently motioning the end of it towards the wardrobe door so he could use the fat end to push the door closed. As it touched the door and began to ease it shut, the tape suddenly unravelled from the handle, wrapping itself around the stick. Before Randall knew what had hit him, something grabbed the other end of the hockey stick and he was pulled out of his bed and into the wardrobe.

Randall’s eyes took only a few moments to adjust to the bright light in the wardrobe, which wasn’t a wardrobe anymore. Instead he was sat on a floating rock, surrounded by boiling flame and lava. The orange light of the cavern he found himself in was so bright and hot, he instantly felt his skin begin to sweat. Then he heard a voice.

“Are you Randall Jacobs?” the voice boomed.

Randall looked around, not sure where the voice had come from. Meekly he replied, “Yes, Why?”

The voice seemed to smile, even before it spoke, “I’ve been expecting you, Randall Jacobs,” it said.

Randall climbed onto his feet, standing upright on the precarious floating rock, “Where am I?” he asked, much more bravely than he’d have thought possible, “What is this place?”

“Why, Randall Jacobs,” the voice chuckled, “you are in Hell.”

“Hell?” Randall repeated, thinking of all the horror stories his grandfather had told him about the Devil and whatnot, “which level is this? Which circle of the nine?”

“Nine circles?” the voice repeated, “where do you people get these ideas. There are more than nine circles of Hell.”

“How many are there?” Randall ventured.

“There are thirty-seven circles. Randall Jacobs?”

Randall’s mouth fell open, “Thirty-seven?” he repeated.

“That’s correct,” the voice repeated, “you are currently in the first circle.”

“Why am I here?” Randall shook his head, “Why was I brought to this place?”

“Because of your fear,” the voice explained, “your fear of open doors.”

Randall was confused, “Why would that mean I’d be dragged off to hell?” he asked.

“Because your fear of doors is causing us problems,” the voice said, “ever since you have kept closing doors everywhere you go, we have been losing our foothold into the human world. Without open doorways, we can’t get to Earth to claim souls. It took us three years just to prise your wardrobe door open even a crack!”

“But what’s so important about me?” Randall asked, “There must be other kids in the world who are scared of monsters in their closets.”

“None that have gone to quite the lengths you have to close all the doors,” the voice argued, “you might not even realise it, but you close doors in shops, at school, even in the park.”

“The park?”

“Yes. All those public toilets – you unconsciously go around closing all the doors to them. They’re a prime spot for us sending evil into the world.”

Randall shook his head, “What if I just promise not to close doors anymore?” he said, “What if you send me back and I just leave all the doors I see wide open?”

The voice paused for a moment, “I don’t know,” it said, “that might not go down very well with the boss.”

“I can make a promise,” Randall offered, “if I close any doors, you can have my immortal soul.”

“Hmm,” the voice pondered, “that does sound tempting. Plus I can blame it on the other guy if the boss doesn’t like it. I’m not even supposed to be here today.”

“Then can I go back?” Randall asked, “Please?”

“Okay then,” the voice said, “but only if you promise.”

“I promise,” Randall said, “on my honour.”

“Then off you go,” the voice said, then a snapping noise could be heard as Randall shot up into the air.

Back in his bedroom, Randall fell out of the wardrobe, crashing into all of his belongings and landing in a heap on the floor. He picked himself up, looking around, and he smiled.

He was home.

“What’s all that noise?” a voice asked, opening his bedroom door. It was Tabby, the babysitter, “It sounds like someone set off a bomb in here – and it looks like it too.”

“Sorry,” Randall said, “I just... fell out of bed.”

“Well, try to keep it down, okay?” Tabby asked, “You should have been asleep hours ago.”

As she moved to leave the room, closing the door behind her, Randall called out, “Wait!”

Tabby stopped, staring back into the room, “What is it?” she asked.

Randall looked sheepish, then said, “Can you leave the door open, please?”

message 25: by John (new)

John Jones (johnijones) A wrote: "Hi, John! Just paste the story text within the contest thread as a comment. You only need to add your title and name, and if it's a bit risqué, please put a warning for our younger members. Hope th..."

Thanks for getting back to me.
I'm afraid the space allotted for pasting the short story isn't big enough for my story.
My story is 3158 words and the allotted space isn't big enough.
Is there anyway around that space limitation?

message 26: by Edward (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments Split it into two parts, that should allow you to publish it.

message 27: by Edward (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments Garrison wrote: "AUTHOR: Garrison Kelly
TITLE: Putting the Ass in Assault Rifle
GENRE: Modern Day Drama
RATING: Somewhere between PG-13 and R due to swearing, violence, and sensitive political mat..."

I'm glad this story had the gun fanatics have something bad happen to them, even if it was at the expense of their child's life. Here's hoping that Trump doesn't get elected into office, or your story could have been a lot worse, with even the staff wielding guns. Apparently, that way no-one would have got hurt (sarcasm, in case you can't tell). Nice story, though downbeat for everyone in the end.

message 28: by John (new)

John Jones (johnijones) Hi Edward!
That's what I'll do!

message 29: by John (new)

John Jones (johnijones) Going Home
By John Isaac Jones
Part I

Archie was ready to die. At least he thought he was. The sentence had been formally read, he had had his last meal, and the prison chaplain had asked God to have mercy on his soul. Now, as he sat quietly in his cell, the hour was upon him. In the distance, he could hear the doors of the outer cells opening and closing. The warden and his entourage were coming to take him to the electric chair. The sound of rattling keys and the opening and closing of steel doors grew nearer and louder, then he heard the door to the death row cellblock open and a chorus of footsteps tromped across the concrete floor.
With military precision, the entourage stopped in front of Archie's cell. There was the warden, two assistants, the chaplain, the executioner, and the prison physician. The warden faced Archie.
"Archibald William Johnson?" he asked.
"That's me," Archie replied.
With business-like certainty, the warden unfolded an official-looking document. Then, he put on his glasses and began reading.
"The State of Georgia has decreed that you be executed in the electric chair at Valdosta State Prison at midnight on April 23, 1961, which is today. The hour is now approximately 11:35 p.m. Some preparation time will be needed to carry out the court's order. You must come with us so we may carry out the wishes of the state."
Seconds later, the two assistants entered the cell, placed handcuffs on Archie's wrists, and escorted him out. Then the seven men, with Archie in front, started walking out of the death row cellblock.
"Good-bye, Archie," said Charley Fancher, another death row inmate whose cell was directly across from Archie's.
Archie nodded at his old friend.
"May God have mercy on you," said Moses Washington, an older black man, who had been Archie's best friend during his years on death row.
"Bye, Moses," Archie said.
"In about fifteen minutes, you gonna be in hell," said Ray-Ray Hollingsworth, whom Archie had once fought over a piece of cornbread in the prison mess hall.
Archie glanced ominously at Ray-Ray, then acted like he hadn't heard the words.
The entourage stopped in front of the door to the death row cellblock. The warden unlocked the door, waited for the others to pass, then relocked it. Now the seven men were starting the long walk from death row to the execution chamber.
As the entourage passed through the steel and concrete corridor, Archie tried to appear as brave as possible. At age forty-seven, he was a thin, smallish man—maybe five feet, eight inches—with sad eyes and thinning hair. He had two missing teeth and a slight stubble of beard. Jutting over the collar of his prison uniform, on the right side of his neck, was the top of a cross, a chain-gang tattoo he had acquired as a teenager in the state reformatory. Archie had not been a model citizen. He had been in and out of scrapes with the law for as long as he could remember. At the moment, he had been in state prison for eleven years—eight on death row after he was convicted of murder during the robbery of a convenience store near Albany. Archie and his accomplice had taken just over $1100 in the robbery and were making their getaway when a customer, an off-duty cop, came out of the store and started firing. As the robbers' car backed up, then swung around and headed for the street, Archie, who was on the passenger side, took dead aim and dropped the cop with a single shot to the chest. Then they sped away.
After almost a year, Archie was captured in Tennessee, then returned to Georgia. In the first trial, there was a hung jury because the state's chief witness, the clerk, couldn't remember important details of the robbery. In the second trial, however, a new prosecutor was brought in with a new witness and won a murder conviction. The judge said he had no choice but to sentence Archie to death. There had been too many prior felony convictions and Archie wasn't showing sufficient remorse. Over the next ten years, Archie's state-appointed attorneys appealed his conviction all the way to the state supreme court, where it was upheld. With that decision, Archie and his attorneys knew it was only a matter of time before the execution would be held.
Two days before the scheduled execution, Archie had spoken with his lead attorney, who said he had found incriminating evidence against the state's new witness and had presented it to the court and the governor. The lawyer said he couldn't make any promises, but there was "a very good chance" that the governor would commute the sentence and grant him a new trial. It was Archie's only hope.
The group had reached the execution chamber. Once the warden unlocked the door, Archie was led inside and the attendants uncuffed his hands, seated him in the wooden chair, and began strapping him in. Strong leather straps were tightened securely around his ankles, his arms, and his chest. The silver dome was lowered and fitted over his head. Finally, satisfied that everything was ready, the attendants stepped away from the prisoner.
The warden stood in a small alcove in the execution chamber, some ten feet from the electric chair. Behind him was a clock and a telephone. He looked at the clock. It read 11:58. There was a long deathly silence, then, at just after 11:59, the warden looked toward the executioner, who was standing behind the electric chair, his hand on the switch. As the seconds ticked away, the warden started to raise his hand. The executioner put his hand on the switch. Suddenly, the phone rang.
The warden answered the phone.
"Governor?" the warden asked.
All eyes and ears inside the execution chamber turned to the warden.
"Yes," the warden said. "We're about to conduct the execution even as we speak...."
For several moments, the warden listened.
"Yes, sir," he said. "I understand...."
The warden continued listening and said "Yes, sir" another six or seven times. Finally, everyone in the execution chamber could see the conversation was about to an end.
"Yes, governor," he said finally. "I will see that your instructions are carried out."
The warden hung up the phone.
"Unstrap the prisoner," he said. "The prisoner has been given a reprieve. The governor says the chief witness against him has recanted his testimony and the judge has granted a new trial."
The warden turned to face Archie.
"You're a free man," he said. "You're going home."
Archie was stunned at the news. It was a miracle. He had given up all hope and now the long and tireless efforts of his attorneys had finally brought some positive results. Archie couldn't believe he was a free man. And he was going home.
Suddenly, Archie found himself on a bus bound for his hometown of Plum Tree, Georgia. It felt so good to be out. To breathe fresh air, to see green grass and bright sunshine, and be able to swing his arms without fear of hitting an iron bar or a wall. He was anxious to get to Plum Tree. He couldn't wait to see Main Street and how it had changed over the past eleven years. He wanted to go to the Mexican Chili Parlor and see his sister Mable. He wanted to see his old friends at the pool hall. Then he planned to see Big Betty down at the Morris Hotel. He hadn't been with a woman in a long time.
Most of all, he wanted to go back to the old family farm and see his mother. She had a spare bedroom and he could sleep all he wanted. She had canned vegetables from the garden and a cow that gave a gallon of fresh milk a day. Oh, how he longed to be in her comforting presence, to see the peacefulness in her eyes, to sit at her table and eat some of her fried peach pies.
Once the bus arrived, Archie, suitcase in hand, wasted no time walking the two blocks to Main Street. There, at the corner of Main and Chestnut, he stopped and looked for the Mexican Chili Parlor. It was gone. There was a hardware store where the restaurant had once stood. He stepped back to the curb and surveyed the entire street. Yes, this was the place, but there was no more Mexican Chili Parlor. Well, so much for my sister, he thought as he continued walking down Main Street. The old five and dime store where Archie had shoplifted marbles and candy and toy cars was still there. There was Snellgrove's Drug Store, the old Post Office, and Tom Anderson's Office Supply. At the corner of Main and Fourth Street, he turned right and headed for the Smokehouse Pool Hall.
The moment Archie entered the door, Grady Sizemore yelled, "Archie!"
Suddenly, all the pool players stop playing pool and many stepped forward to greet their old friend.
"When did you get out?" Grady asked.
"I beat a murder rap," Archie said. "I'm a free man."
"Well, congratulations," he said. "Jaybird's in the back room playing blackjack. He'd love to see you."
Over the next fifteen minutes, Archie reacquainted himself with his old friends. There was Harry Pickett who Archie had worked with at the Plum Tree Sanitation Department. There was Rusty Walden for whom he had fenced a truckload of stolen men's shirts down in Florida. Archie was so happy to see Floyd Abernathy, his old friend from high school who had been paralyzed in an auto crash while running from the police after a supermarket heist. There were other old friends—"Big Willie" Wilson, Charlie Dupree, and Tommy Hammock—all of whom he had known since childhood.
Suddenly, the room to the back room opened and Jaybird Watson emerged. Jaybird couldn't stop laughing when he saw Archie.
"A free man?" he said over and over. "A free man? I can't believe it. You know there's something I been wanting to talk to you about..."
With that statement, Jaybird invited Archie to go to the back room so they could talk privately. Several minutes later, once they were seated, Jaybird began.
"There’s a service station in Defuniak Springs, Florida run by an old man," he said. "He sells gas and diesel fuel to truckers. He sells thousands and thousands of gallons of diesel every day and he always has lots of cash on hand. My friend says he sometimes has $10,000 to $15,000 at a time...."
Archie could see where the conversation was going.
"Whoa! Whoa!" he said. "If you're angling for me to do a job with you, I'm not interested. I'm going straight."
"Don't be stupid," Jaybird said. "It's just an old man. We could hit him in the head and be gone before anybody knew what happened. There could easily be five or six grand apiece in it."
"No," Archie said firmly. "I'm going straight."
Jaybird shook his head with disapproval.
"You want to have a nip with me?" he said. "I got a fresh pint of Miller's Hollow moonshine in the trunk of my car."
"No," Archie said again. "I quit drinking. I don't mess with that stuff no more."
"Just for old time’s sake?" Jaybird asked.
Archie shook his head. He could see that all Jaybird wanted to do was get him in trouble again. Moments later, he said good-bye to his former partner in crime, grabbed his suitcase, and stepped back out on the street. Once outside again, he peered down Fourth Street where, some two blocks away, he saw a sign that read Morris Hotel. Some ten minutes later, he was standing in front of the sign.

message 30: by John (new)

John Jones (johnijones) Going Home
By John Isaac Jones
Part II

He went inside to the desk.
"Who would you like to see?" the clerk asked.
"Big Betty," Archie said.
The clerk seemed surprised.
"Big Betty?" he said. "We have several girls that are much younger than her."
"No, I want to see Big Betty," Archie said firmly.
"Okay," the clerk said. "That's six dollars for the room and twenty-five dollars for Big Betty."
Archie plunked thirty-one dollars cash on the counter and the clerk handed him the key.
"That's room 241," the clerk said.
The moment Archie opened the door, Big Betty stared at him as if she had seen a ghost.
"Archie," she said. "What happened? I thought you were a goner! I read in the papers they were sending you to the chair. How'd you get out?"
After several minutes of explaining about his reprieve, Big Betty was ready to get down to business.
"Okay," she said. "Get those clothes off."
Archie loved being with Big Betty, even though she was in her late forties now. She had gained some weight in recent years, and the wrinkles around her lips were deeper now, but she was a woman who truly knew her business. She had great hands and she knew how to use them. Also, she took pride in her work. "I know how to satisfy a man," she had once told him. "Any man..."
Archie was a new man when he walked out of the Morris Hotel. Back out on the street again, he hailed a taxi.
"I'm going to the Chalfant farm," he told the driver.
Outside of town, he glanced out the cab window at Plum Tree High School where he had attended classes off and on for almost eleven years. There, many years ago on the front lawn, he had fought Harold Bowling over an ice cream cone until the principal had separated them. The old sycamore tree—much larger now—stood in the corner of the playground where he had played softball and horseshoes and tag with his classmates. There was the high hill made up of Georgia red clay overlooking the playground where Archie and his friends would slide down the hill on cardboard boxes after a rain. Moments later, he saw the windmill on the old Chalfant farm and he knew he was nearing his destination. The cab stopped, Archie got out and paid the driver.
As the cab pulled away, Archie instinctively peered across a pasture through a thicket of pines and sweet gums at the old family farmhouse some one hundred yards away. This was where he had grown up. This was the world of his childhood. Then, suitcase in hand, he started walking down the dirt road from the highway to the farmhouse. As he walked, he realized he had forgotten how much he loved South Georgia in late April. Birds were singing, dogwoods were in bloom, yellow honeysuckle hung in heavy pods along the fences and hedgerows, and the entire countryside was rife with vibrant greens and yellows.
Suddenly, he stopped. There, to his left, overgrown with weeds and blocked by a fallen tree, was what remained of the old path to the river. It was down this path he walked hand-in-hand with Maynelle Thompson many, many times. He was seventeen, she was sixteen, and he vividly remembered the Sunday afternoon they walked down that very path to the river, went skinny-dipping, made love, and professed their eternal devotion to one another. Eight months later, however, after Archie was sent to the state reformatory for stealing a car, she visited him and told him she was going to marry Hollis Whisenant. Hollis had a steady job at the mobile home manufacturing plant, she said, and he wanted to make something out of himself. It was nothing personal, Maynelle explained, but she wanted a man with a future.
Now Archie was walking past the waving, amber fields of broom sage where he and his cousins had played cowboys and Indians and caught lightning bugs. As he rounded a bend in the road, he glanced toward the vegetable garden. There was his mother tilling the soil with a hoe. She was hilling pole beans.
"Mama!" Archie called.
The old woman slowly raised her body, pushed her glasses up on her nose, and turned to the direction of the sound. A huge smile burst across her face.
"Archie!" she yelled. "Is that you?"
"It’s me, mama!" Archie yelled back, and then he watched as his mother came running between the rows of okra and tomatoes and sweet corn as fast as her heavy frame would allow. It was so good to be home. So good to find some peace and comfort and security for a change.
Finally, she had reached him and mother and son clasped one another with all their might. As he looked into his mother's face, huge tears were rolling down his cheeks. Somehow, some way, in his heart of hearts, he knew he would never look into his mother's eyes again.
Archie released the embrace and wiped away the tears.
"Come on," his mother said. "Let's go to the house. I just made some fresh peach pies."
Those were the exact words Archie wanted to hear.
Moments later, he was seated at his mother's table. First, she served him a glass of cold cow's milk. Then she turned and started to the stove. With absolute pure lust, he watched as she took down the warm, cloth-wrapped peach pies from the oven. Moments later, she delivered two of them on to the plate in front of him. Archie, not wasting any time, quickly sliced up the two half-moon fruit pies and dabbed them with huge chunks of fresh cow's butter. He watched the butter melt, slowly and surely, into the flaky pieces of pie, waiting for each dwindling chunk of butter to ooze into the innermost crevices of the crust and filling so that, at just the right moment, he could luxuriate in that perfect bite. Seconds later, that moment arrived. Archie took a bite and closed his eyes. He felt the savory warmth of the melting butter and fresh peach course across his taste buds. Oh great God, he thought, this has to be the most wonderful taste in all the world. Archie felt like he had died and gone to heaven.
Just as he was feeling the full rush of the warm, buttered peach pie, his entire body suddenly convulsed like a clenched fist as 120,000 volts of electricity surged through his every vessel, organ, tissue, muscle, and sinew. His chest thrust violently forward; his arms and legs twisted desperately against the leather straps. Then, a blinding streak of hot light flashed fatally across his consciousness. Everything was dark and silent.
With a nod of his head, the warden signaled for the prison physician to do his duty.
The medical officer, who was wearing a stethoscope, stepped forward and examined Archie for respiration, pulse, and heartbeat.
Moments later, having finished his exam, he turned to the warden.
"The prisoner is dead," he said.

**The End**

message 31: by Garrison (last edited Feb 24, 2016 04:36PM) (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9054 comments Edward wrote: "I'm glad this story had the gun fanatics have something bad happen to them, even if it was at the expense of their child's life. Here's hoping that Trump doesn't get elected into office, or your story could have been a lot worse, with even the staff wielding guns. Apparently, that way no-one would have got hurt (sarcasm, in case you can't tell). Nice story, though downbeat for everyone in the end."

I'm glad you appreciate my heartbreaking story this week, Edward. At first I was nervous about posting this particular story, but it seems to be well-received, so thanks for that. :)

message 32: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 90 comments Wow, John, I'm blown away. I really had thought I couldn't be shocked by a twist ending anymore, but I absolutely didn't expect that. That was so beautiful and sad. And such a great job at making me actually feel for Archie. I'm pretty sure you've got my vote this week.

message 33: by Natalia (new)

Natalia I not entirely sure if I like what I wrote this week but posting it won't do me any harm, right?

Tite: I'm Not Crazy

Word Count: 2203

“Barbara, you need to stop! I’ worried about you,” Barbara’s best friend, Hanna, said. She took her friend by the shoulders and shook her, trying to talk some sense into her. “You’re turning twenty-five next week; it’s time for you to face reality.”

“But he is real!” Barbara ran her hand through her blonde curls, anguished. “He cares about me like nobody else does. And just because you can’t see it, it doesn’t mean that it’s not true.”

“This Scott guy is not real. He’s just some imaginary friend you created because you were feeling lonely. I am your real friend; I care about you. Please listen to me.”

Barbara gave Hanna a dry laugh and freed herself from her grip. “You really don’t believe me. I’m telling you the truth. Scott may not be flesh and blood like every other human being but he is very much alive and real.”

“Yeah? Then, why can’t anybody see him?”

“I’ve told you a thousand times before. I know it sounds ridiculous but he is made of shadows; he is a shadow. You’ve probably seen him but never actually looked at him. You need to study him carefully so you can see his figure.”

“You are nuts!”

The blonde raised her hand to her chest, looking offended. “I’m done. I’m not a liar and I’m not crazy. It’s your problem if you don’t want to believe me.”

She turned around and marched out of her best friend’s house, not even bothering to pick her coat before. Barbara entered her car and drove to her apartment as fast as she could; she was over speeding and had ignored at least to ‘Stop’ signs but that didn’t stop her. She needed to get home. Scott would be waiting for her.

As soon as Barbara arrived at her building, she ran inside to call the elevator, barely even acknowledging the porter. She tapped on the button multiple times, a nervous habit she had picked up since she was little. After waiting for thirty seconds- she counted- Barbara decided it wasn’t worth the wait. Her apartment was on the sixth floor, after all; it wasn’t that far. Opening the door that led to the stairwell, she started climbing two steps at the time. Quickly she got to her floor, panting and with her legs hurting.

‘Damn’, she thought, ‘I really need to exercise more.’ Barbara unlocked her door and entered.

“Scott, are you here?” she exclaimed to the air.

She waited. At first, nothing happened, but, then, a shadow appeared in front of Barbara, slowly taking its form. The final result was the silhouette of a tall man with short hair. If looked carefully, you could also see the details in his face- tiny eyes, straight nose- and in his clothes.

Barbara took a step towards the shadow and embraced it; her hands around the man’s waist. He soon reciprocated, one hand on her back and the other one in her hair, stroking it softly. He looked down at her and kissed her, their lips barely touching.

“Hey baby,” the shadow, Scott, whispered against her lips. “How was everything with Hanna?”

“What do you think?” Barbara answered bitterly. “By supposed best friend asked me over to help her write thank you notes for the baby shower but it was just an excuse to tell me how fucked up my life is. Hanna keeps saying I should grow up and that you’re not real.”

“But we both know that’s not true,” he said and kissed her again, this time longer and more passionate.

Barbara pulled away first and went to sit on the couch in the living room. Scott followed her and laced their hands together. “I just wish she’d believe me. She’s supposed to, after all; she’s my best friend since forever! Explain me again why can’t Hanna see you like I do?”

He sighed. “I’ve told you a thousand times before. Only the people that want to see can see Shadows. Your friend is too skeptical. She doesn’t believe, even if she says she wants to see me.”

“But I wasn’t looking for Shadows either when we first met.”

“No, but you were looking for someone. A friend. Shadows can feel loneliness, that’s why I was drawn to you and you were able to see me.”

“God, do you remember when we first met? It was so long ago! And I was completely hideous,” Barbara said and laughed. “I had braces and died strands of my hair green.”

“You were cute… Kind of,” Scott made a face and she hit him in the arm though she was grinning.

“I miss those times when we would just sit on the floor of my bedroom and talk. I would try to braid my hair like some celebrity I saw on the internet and you would say I looked gorgeous, even though I can’t braid to save my life.” The blonde snuggled closer to him and smiled sadly. “Everything used to so simple. Sometimes I wish I hadn’t told Hanna about us.”

“You thought she’d understand. I did too, to be honest. But she didn’t so we just have to move on.”

“At least, I have you. I love you so much, Scott.”

“I love you too, baby.”

Barbara couldn’t believe it. Less than one hour ago, she had been angry at Hanna…and the whole universe and now she felt like in Heaven. Scott had always had that effect on her; always, since they had met when she was fourteen. Even if he was a Shadow and their relationship could never be public and her best friend thought she was completely insane, she could never ask for a better boyfriend.

Her phone suddenly rang, disturbing the peaceful and loving atmosphere of the living room. She went to reach it from her pocket when she realized it wasn’t there. Where had she left it? Barbara got up the couch and sharpened her ear. She finally found it- who knew how it had gotten under the kitchen table- just as it stopped ringing.

1 missed called from Hanna at 18:16

Well, that was a shock. Barbara wasn’t expecting to hear from Hanna anytime soon; especially one hour after their fight. ‘Maybe she feels bad about what she told me’, the blonde thought hopefully. ‘Maybe she just wants to apologize.’ But, somehow, she didn’t think that was it. Hanna was stubborn as a mule; she had never been one to surrender first.

“Are you going to call her back?” Scott asked out of the sudden, making Barbara jump. It turned out he had been looking over her shoulder as she unlocked her cell phone.

“I don’t know. I’m not feeling like talking to her; she was a total bitch earlier.”

“But she’s your best friend,” he argued. “Hanna’s like your sister. And family means nobody gets left behind.”

“Do all Shadows are as wise as you?”

“If I’m being completely honest... I was quoting Lilo & Stitch but let’s go with the ‘wise Shadow-man thing’ instead.”

“You’re a dork,” Barbara teased him.

“But you love me anyways.”

“Can’t deny that,” she pecked his cheek. “And, movie reference or not, you’re right about Hanna too. I’m calling her back.”

She pressed two- Hanna had been on her speed dial since they were thirteen- and brought her phone to her ear. After two tones, her best friend answered.

“Barbara, hi. I wasn’t sure if you were ignoring me,” Hanna said, sounding nervous. “I hate how things ended between us today. Could you meet me tomorrow? Around noon.”

“I…I guess. I’m still mad at you, though. What you said really hurt me.”

“I know; I am sorry. I was just saying what I thought was best for you.”

“Well, you were wrong,” Barbara said, her voice harsh. “Where do you want to meet?”

“The Starbucks near High School,” Hanna answered quickly. Way too quick to be casual. Barbara dismissed that thought, though; she must’ve heard wrong.

“Okay, see you then.”

Barbara barely slept during the whole night. She felt anxious and she had a really bad feeling, like some tragedy was about to strike. And, to worsen things up, she couldn’t talk to Scott about, since he was out doing some Shadowy things. At 4 AM, she gave up sleeping completely and opened Netflix on her tablet, a Breaking Bad episode waiting for her.

Morning finally arrived and with it, work; something to distract Barbara from her afternoon meeting. She worked as an assistant to a big architect, hoping he would help her form an architecture career of her own.

She went to eat breakfast but quickly decided against it. She really didn’t feel like eating; her stomach was in a knot and her mouth tasted sour. The dreadful feeling from earlier hadn’t gone away yet. ‘Stop. You’re probably just paranoid’, she scolded herself. Swallowing her worries, she dressed up and left for the office.

Thankfully for her, it was a busy day at work; many clients to visit and coffees to bring- seriously, her boss drunk way too much coffee to be healthy. Soon enough, Barbara had forgotten almost everything about the meet a few hours away- almost, being the key word. Her stomach refused to untangle itself all day.

Finally, her lunch break arrived. The blonde said goodbye to some of her colleagues and left for Starbucks. Since it wasn’t that far away, Barbara decided to walk there; exercising is always good. As she passed by, she saw Shadows doing their daily activities; walking dogs, sitting on benches, chatting. She had discovered that, after she realized that the whole Shadow world existed, she was able to see every single one of them.

message 34: by Natalia (last edited Feb 25, 2016 01:58PM) (new)

Natalia I'm Not Crazy Part II

She arrived at the café and looked around; as always, Hanna was late. She went to order a frappuccino- those things were a serious addiction- and went to sit down. Her friend arrived ten minutes after she did; her black hair in a sloppy ponytail and her baby bump looking way too big for a five-month pregnancy. She also had dark circles under her eyes; apparently Barbara hadn’t been the only one losing sleep.

“Hey Hanna,” Barbara greeted and stood up. Just then she noticed a man walking behind Hanna. His hair had strands of grey and he wore a doctor’s white coat. The blonde stiffened. “Who’s your friend?”

“This is Doctor Jonathan West. He works in the mental hospital next door.”

“And why would you bring a doctor from a madhouse here?” Barbara took a step away from the couple in front of her. Her bad feeling intensified.

“Because…I’m concerned about you. You should go with him, Barbie; let him examine you.”

“There’s no way in hell I’m going with him!” the blonde yelled, attracting every single pair of eyes on Starbucks.

“Please, Barbie. This is for your own good,” Hanna tried to reach her arm but Barbara jerked away. The black-haired woman turned to Dr. West then and looked at him pleading. “She won’t listen to reason, Jonathan. Help me.”

“Barbara, this is just an examination; you have nothing to worry about,” West tried to appease her. “Just come with me to the hospital.”

“I’m not crazy. Besides, you can’t take me against my will!”

“He has my permission. I am your emergency contact. Your dad died and your mom lives in London; I’m the closest thing you have to a family,” Hanna said.

‘No, Scott’s the closest thing that I have to family’, Barbara thought but saying that wasn’t going to help her case. To be completely honest, the blonde didn’t think nothing was going to help her now. ‘I have to get away from here. Now.’ She looked around, studying her options until she found what she was looking for. A back door. She started backing away slowly. Hanna and West didn’t notice at first- exactly what Barbara had wanted- and when they finally did, she was too close to the door for them to stop her; she began to run and was able to leave the café.

She hadn’t even run ten feet before a bulky, bald guy in a black polo grabbed her arm. On his shirt, in tiny white letters, was written ‘St. Andrew’s Mental Hospital’. Barbara tried to fight him but he was twice his size and, at least, three times as strong.

“Sorry, Miss, but I’m afraid you need to come with me,” the guy said.

“No, no, no. I’m not going anywhere with you. Let. Me. Go,” the blonde bit his arm. He hissed but didn’t let go. “Scott! Come here, please! Help me, Scott!” she yelled then. She figured Scott would find a way to help her. But she got no answer, no shadow forming in front of her.

He wasn’t there.

“I’m so sorry about this, Miss,” the big man whispered to her and, with his free hand, took a syringe out of his pocket. With a swift move, he injected me in the neck.

Barbara stopped trying to free herself. Everything was looking more blurry every second and her eyes felt heavier. “No, no. I can’t. I need Scott. I’m not crazy. Please,” she murmured weakly, before falling into unconsciousness.

message 35: by Edward (last edited Feb 27, 2016 11:34PM) (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments Raven wrote: "(Hero's' reward continued)

Takao frowned in bemusement. "Not much money at home then?" he asked. "My family is the same." He remarked, though he couldn't get rid of the nagging feeling that for h..."

What a sweet little story, though I did think that the ending was going to be different. I won't say what I thought would happen, but if you've seen a scary movie called The Orphan you might know what I was thinking. :D

message 36: by Raven (new)

Raven (Reibunriinta) Edward wrote: "Raven wrote: "(Hero's' reward continued)

Takao frowned in bemusement. "Not much money at home then?" he asked. "My family is the same." He remarked, though he couldn't get rid of the nagging feel..."

Thank you. Yeah....my brother actually helped me come up with that twist ending...he's surprisingly supportive at times. lol

No I haven't, I don't really watch horror movies. :D

message 37: by C.P., Windrunner (new)

C.P. Cabaniss (cpcabaniss) | 637 comments I'm really trying to get something finished for this week. I'm not satisfied with any of my completed stories and can't get the ones I'm starting to come out right! Maybe I'll get one written tomorrow.

message 38: by Anne (new)

Anne (annefrn) | 916 comments Yay! Got one done early for a change. Needed a break from last week's emotional tugs, so be prepared for utter silliness. :)

message 39: by Anne (new)

Anne (annefrn) | 916 comments Title: What's in a name?
Genre: Juvenile Humor
Word count: 1700

Horse-Feathers and his friends, Cow-Pattie and Salt-Lick were bemoaning their names. At 13 years of age, the three boys would soon be embarking on the tribe's Coming of Age Huntfest, where they would be expected to perform deeds of manly prowess. The three boys shared the same pale, freckled skin and black hair of their race, but unlike other boys their age, had not developed the prized musculature of men.

“More like scrawny prowess,” Cow-Pattie remarked as they once again compared biceps.

“How can we expect to accomplish anything with names like this?” Horse-Feathers kicked stones out of the sand in front of him. “There's no competing with Rough-and-Ready or Razer-Sharp-Teeth.”

“Or Tough-as-Nails”, Salt-Lick added. “You know he'll cheat.”

The best friends were skipping stones across the large lake that bordered their town of the same name, Lake Cockadoodle, shaped like a cock. It was early summer and the Needle-Nosed-Daffodils were in full bloom, reaching out with their pointy probosces to impale the unwary.

“Ouch! One got me” Horse-Feathers rubbed the back of his head as he veered away from the 5 foot tall flowers that seemed to pop out of nowhere.

Cow-Patty ignored him and whined, “What were our mothers thinking 13 years ago? Why couldn't we have names like Sharp-as-a-Tack, or Muscles-R-Us, something like that?”

Salt-Lick chimed in morosely, “And why did they change the custom anyway? It's like they were deliberately trying to doom us.”

“My mother, Right-as-Rain, said it was because of stuff that happened to them when they were pregnant with us.” Horse-Feathers announced. “Makes no sense to me.”

“Like what?” Salt-Lick hadn't heard anything like that from his own mother, Sugar-and-Spice.

“Well, she said she found a giant feather that had belonged to a magic horse the day I was born. She thought it was good luck. She never showed it to me, though.”

Your mother, Sweet-as-Pie, on the other hand...” Horse-Feathers looked at Cow-Pattie with a straight face, “I heard she was walking in the pasture and the smell of all the cow turds overcame her and it made her have you right there.”

Horse-Feathers couldn't keep his face from twitching and cracked up, joined by Salt-Lick.

“Huh? No. You're kidding, right? You have to be kidding. I know you are.” Cow-Pattie looked back and forth between them in dismay.

Actually, that was not quite what Horse-Feathers had heard from his mother, Right-as-Rain, but he'd much rather treat it like a joke. Deep down, though he was afraid there might be something to her stories. Like her name, his mother was never wrong.

“You know who might know?” Salt-Lick's face lit with an idea. “Our librarian ---”

“ --- Miss Know-It-All!” The other two boys cued in immediately.

“Yeah, she knows everything. Let's go later, when we get back to town.”

The boys had started walking along the shore when they came to the Flaming Onion river, which emptied into the lake. The Flaming Onion had some good fishing, if one could brave the noxious tear-inducing odors further upstream. Horse-Feathers saw his father, Up-a-Creek, paddling upstream. He waved with his paddle as he dug in against the current.

Horse-Feathers called out to him, “Don't lose your paddle, Dad!”

Up-a-Creek briefly lifted his paddle in acknowledgment.

“You know he'll lose it.” Cow-Patty pointed out.

“Yeah, we keep some extras along the riverbanks.”

“You know it's funny.” Horse-Feathers mused. “Do you think the names make us or that we become like the names? The boys stopped in their tracks to consider this profound question.

“Well, your dad's always been a fisherman, so Up-a-Creek seems like a good name for him.”

“Yeah, but he always loses his paddle.”

“And Grandpa Counting-Sheep was a shepherd, so that works out.”

“Yeah, when he's not sleeping.”

The boys snickered, remembering the old man's chronically somnolent state.

“They said Grandma Lemon-Curd used to be really sweet and a good baker.”

“Yeah, but now she's got the sourest face – it turns your stomach.”

Horse-Feathers thought of the others he knew, defined by their names: Tongue-in-Cheek was the local scribe and story-teller; Against-the-Wind fished the deep waters of the lake, huge sails billowing out as he tacked his way back and forth.

“So what does that mean for us?”
It was a depressing thought.

They walked on in silence, past the pebbly shore, past the dried out basin that used to be filled with sea water. The basin was now famous for the salt licks that attracted animals from the forest.

“So your mom used to come here and lick the salt, huh?”

Salt Lick smacked his friend's head in mock anger.

Still wandering aimlessly, for lack of anything better to do, they approached the craggy cliffs that bordered the south end of the lake and now rose up in front of them. Cow-Pattie lagged a little behind, scrutinizing the ground.

“Have you ever climbed up there?” Horse-Feathers pointed to the cliffs.

“No! No one is allowed. It's banned. It's too dangerous,” Cow-Pattie answered as he scurried to catch up.

“No one's ever tried,” Salt-Lick corrected him. “I think it'd be neat to be the first.”

“Let's do it!” Horse-Feathers dared his friends. “I've always wanted to get a close look at the white top on the ridge. It's like a big mound of snow, but it's not.”

They eyed the jagged edges as they neared the first cliff, seeking a way up.

“Uh, hold on guys, if I tell you something, will you promise not to laugh?” Salt-Lick interrupted their searching gazes.

The boys had long ago formed a special handshake for moments like this. They stood in a circle, hands together in the middle. They entwined their fingers and wiggled them up over their heads. This meant that anything spoken would stay within the circle, to be held in strictest confidence; death to the one who broke the pledge.

“So what gives?” Horse-Feathers asked.

Salt-Lick took a deep breath. “My mom makes me carry a bunch of salt chunks with me all the time.”

The other two boys looked at each other and shrugged in unison, “Why?”

“Dunno. She said it would protect me. She checks my clothes every day & puts them in.”

“Okay.” True to their pledge, they didn't laugh, even though they had to bite their lips to squelch the urge.

They began to lower their hands, when Cow-Pattie resisted. “Uh, as long as we're doing this, I have a confession to make too. Promise not to laugh.”

Horse-Feathers rolled his eyes, “Sure, why not?”

Cow-Pattie let it out in a rush, “My mom makes me save cow-patties. She makes me look for the old ones, the ones that are all hard with sharp edges, and makes me carry them, too.”

Horse-Feathers made a gagging noise. “Ugh, that is the grossest...okay, sure, whatever.”

Salt-Lick asked, “Do you have any with you?”

Cow-Pattie nodded, “I saw one back there and put it in my pocket. Wanna see?”
“NO!” Both boys said together.

“Anything you wanna share, Horse-Feathers?” Salt Lick asked.
“No.” He turned his pockets out. “See? No horses. No feathers. Are we done now?”

Confidences over, they turned their attention back to the cliff.

“This looks like it could work.” There were some edges and holes that could serve as handholds for climbing up the steep slope. “We're probably light enough that they'll hold us.” Horse-Feathers suggested.

They began to climb. It was easier than they thought and soon were up on the top.

“That wasn't bad. Wonder why no one's ever done this,” Horse-Feathers reflected.

They soon had their answer.

What looked like a white mounded peak at the top of the cliff was the back of a large wingless animal, at least 20 feet wide and equally as long. It was covered with huge white feathers that ruffled in the afternoon wind. It's legs, if it had any, were folded under it, as if sitting on a nest. A snappy gust tore three feathers loose and Horse-Feathers ran to pick them up. He looked at one closely. Each feather was made up of hundreds of small fibers. And each fiber was like a dart, sharp and tapered to a deadly point.

He turned to his friends who stood paralyzed at something else. Slithering towards them were three giant black snakes, each with fangs dripping venom.

The boys edged closer to each other, backing slowly away at the same time. The snakes slid forward.

“What can we do?” Salt-Lick muttered out of the side of his mouth – as if the snake could read lips.

“All I've got is my cow pie.”

Horse-Feathers was seized with an idea.
“Throw it. You, too, Salt-Lick. Throw your stuff.”

With nothing to lose, they reached into their pockets, and Horse-Feathers pulled a few metallic strands from one of his feathers.

As one, they pitched with all their strength.

Where the salt lick struck the first snake, a sizzling burn erupted. Salt-Lick reached into his pocket for more, throwing several more times, until nothing was left except a pile of smoking skin.

The cow pattie severed the head of the second snake, and the feathered tines thoroughly pierced the hide of the third. The last dart made it's way into the open mouth and the snake fell dead.

Stunned, the boys looked around as if to see if anyone was watching.

There was.

The white creature with the sharp feathers had lifted up it's head and turned it towards them.

It had the head of a horse.

It's fierce gaze caused the boys to tremble, then it turned it's head back, concealing it once again under it's spiky canopy of feathers.

The boys made.their way down the cliff and in silent agreement, turned towards home.

Horse-Feathers said in a small voice as he fingered the feathers in his pocket, “Maybe I don't mind my name so much anymore.”

Salt-Lick and Cow-Pattie both nodded.

“Yeah, but...” Salt-Lick's voice petered out as he bit his lip.

“Yeah,” Horse-Feathers knew what his friend was thinking, “What are we gonna be like when we get old?”

message 40: by Anne (new)

Anne (annefrn) | 916 comments Raven wrote: "(Hero's' reward continued)

Takao frowned in bemusement. "Not much money at home then?" he asked. "My family is the same." He remarked, though he couldn't get rid of the nagging feeling that for h..."

What a sweet story! You certainly kept the action going!

message 41: by Raven (new)

Raven (Reibunriinta) Thanks so much Anne!

message 42: by Anne (new)

Anne (annefrn) | 916 comments Ruth wrote: "Once Upon a Time in Nocturnal Continued

“What if we convince them to open it?” Phil suggested.
“How are we going to do that?” Fritz crossed his arms, and then his eyes fell on Jessie. “Hey, you’..."

Good job Ruth, I especially enjoyed the touch of humor.

message 43: by Anne (new)

Anne (annefrn) | 916 comments Rachel wrote: "The Fall
by Rachel
Word Count: 610

Mayer and I walked through the startlingly white forest with the trees powdered in snow.

“Your hair matches the snow,” Mayer said touching my light blonde, alm..."

Wow! that was a surprise! Nicely written, evoked a lot of feeling in me.

message 44: by Grace (new)

Grace Crandall | 299 comments Ahh I love your story Anne!! I'm still laughing about the 'Muscles-R-Us' bit :D

message 45: by Anne (last edited Feb 26, 2016 02:04PM) (new)

Anne (annefrn) | 916 comments Edward wrote: "Title : Ajar
Author : Edward Davies
Genre : Horror
Word Count : 1506
Rating : PG

Randall had always had an unrelenting fear of open doors. He always thought to himself that if a door were to be le..."

Loved the reference to the toilet doors! Great take on the boogeyman motif -- I was exactly the same way when I was a kid, making sure the closet door was closed, then staring at it until I couldn't keep my eyes open. Hmm. Wonder if I'll be able to sleep tonight. Good work.

message 46: by Anne (new)

Anne (annefrn) | 916 comments Grace wrote: "Ahh I love your story Anne!! I'm still laughing about the 'Muscles-R-Us' bit :D"

Thanks Grace!

message 47: by Rachel (new)

Rachel Heinen | 134 comments Thanks, Anne.

message 48: by Anne (new)

Anne (annefrn) | 916 comments John wrote: "Going Home
By John Isaac Jones
Part II

He went inside to the desk.
"Who would you like to see?" the clerk asked.
"Big Betty," Archie said.
The clerk seemed surprised.
"Big Betty?" he said. "We ha..."

A powerfully riveting story, very believable. Thank you for sharing.

message 49: by Anne (new)

Anne (annefrn) | 916 comments Garrison wrote: "AUTHOR: Garrison Kelly
TITLE: Putting the Ass in Assault Rifle
GENRE: Modern Day Drama
RATING: Somewhere between PG-13 and R due to swearing, violence, and sensitive political mat..."

A very intense story, Garrison. Wouldn't surprise me at all to find out scenes like this actually occur in real life. I think I'll be eating in for a while. :)

message 50: by Anne (new)

Anne (annefrn) | 916 comments Natalia wrote: "I'm Not Crazy Part II

She arrived at the café and looked around; as always, Hanna was late. She went to order a frappuccino- those things were a serious addiction- and went to sit down. Her friend..."

I liked your story, I thought it very touching. I would say that Part I could stand as a story by itself -- I actually thought it was done and that Hannah had a special ability that others did not. Part 2 brought it into a sharper focus, creating a sense of sympathy along with hope for her healing.

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