Weekly Short Stories Contest and Company! discussion

Weekly Short Story Contests > Week 415 (June 14-20) Stories Topic: Breeze

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message 1: by C. J., Cool yet firm like ice (new)

C. J. Scurria (goodreadscomcj_scurria) | 4309 comments You have until the 20th of June to post a story and from the 21st to around the 25th of June, we’ll vote for which one we thought was best!

Please post directly into the topic and not a link. Please don’t use a story previously used in this group. Only one submission per person is allowed.

Your story should be between 300 and 3,500 words long.

REMEMBER! A short story is not merely a scene. It must have a beginning, a middle, and an end.

This week’s topic is: Breeze

The rules are pretty loose. You could write a story about anything that has to do with the subject/photo but it must relate to the topic somehow.

Most of all have fun!

message 2: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9618 comments As a lot of you already know, I wrote the final chapter of Beautiful Monster this past Wednesday, so that means I'm scrambling for another novel to work on. In the meantime, what I plan on doing for this group is pump out another American Darkness 3 short story to fill the void. This week's story is called "The Human Hotdog" and it goes like this:


1. Spencer Pyle, Anti-LGBT Activist
2. Quinn Simon, College Principal

PROMPT CONFORMITY: There’s a fan blowing on Quinn’s desk and it brings Spencer’s hotdog odor on its breeze.

SYNOPSIS: Spencer angrily demands action from Principal Simon after the former is squirted with ketchup and mustard by offended students. Quinn reminds him that while the college he runs is geared towards free speech, the first amendment only protects against legal consequences, not social ones. In other words, free speech is a two-way street where both the instigator and the responder have complete reign over the conversation instead of just one or the other. Quinn also reminds Spencer that verbal harassment is just as bad as squirting condiments at people when it comes to filing assault charges. Spencer then reveals through his “unnamed source” that Quinn was responsible for distributing those mustard and ketchup bottles to the students for such an occasion.

message 3: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9618 comments Hey, everybody. I'm sorry to announce that there will be no input from me this week after all. Three different factors contributed to me dropping out. One, I'm second-guessing this particular story. Two, I've been exhausted as hell these past few days (sleep apnea aside, maybe going for long walks in this summertime heat might have a little bit to do with that). And three, I have a new creative project that I'll be working on: editing the hell out of Beautiful Monster so that it'll be ready for professional beta-reading. That's all I have to say for now. Again, I'm sorry I can't compete this week, but it is what it is.

message 4: by Edward (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments Title : Interrogation Revelation (Helen Singer, Chapter 19, Part 2)
Author : Edward Davies
Word Count : 1833
Rating : PG13

We were so busy talking that we barely noticed my mum coming into the observation room. When she spoke, we glanced at the window and saw that Basil was gone.

“Where is he?” I asked, “Where did Basil go?”

“We took him away,” my mum said.

“To the cells?” Fran asked.

“No,” my mum said, “we’ve had to set him up in a hotel with a guard on the door. Or are you forgetting that there are no cells left in the station? The whole back end of the building is gone, and we still don’t know how or why.”

My assumption that my mum had forgotten what had happened before she was turned to stone was starting to seem to be more and more of a reality. How could anyone forget that one of their prisoners had been transformed into a mythological creature and had then knocked down half the police station?

“That’s right,” I smiled innocently, “by the way, did he say anything more about the missing children?”

“I thought you were listening in?” my mum declared, “That was the reason you asked to sit in here, wasn’t it? To listen in.”

“Yeah,” Fran agreed, “but we got distracted.”

“Teenagers,” my mum muttered under her breath, then in a normal voice added, “he claims he doesn’t know anything about the missing kids, but I’m not so sure. That’s why we’re holding him for further questioning. Usually being held prisoner makes the lesser criminals crack, but that’s when they’re in a jail cell, not in a comfy hotel room. And to be perfectly honest we only have him on charges of public exposure. Other than that, we’ve got nothing on him for the missing kids.”

I frowned at Fran, who tried not to frown back. It sounded like our theory was right – there was another cursed individual out there somewhere, and we had to find them, find the book, and end this thing once and for all.

“Thanks for letting us sit in on this, mum,” I said, pecking her on the cheek as I walked towards the doors of the viewing room. I’d decided there and then that there was no point waiting around at the police station when we had at least one lead to follow up on, “it was… interesting.”

“Yeah, thanks Mrs S,” Fran said, following me out of the room.

“Don’t stay out too late,” my mum called after us, “and be careful.”

Fran caught up with me as we passed the still dazed looking cop I’d hypnotised earlier, “So now what?” she asked me with a hiss.

“Let’s get back to that building where I saw Alfie disappear,” I said, “maybe we can find a clue or something. Maybe something that can tell us who has the book.”

We rushed down the street, heading towards the building in question, and managed to get there in record time. It was still boarded up, and there was no sign that anybody had found their way inside. I stared at the solid wall and the boarded up windows and frowned.

“Well?” Fran asked.

“Well what?” I asked back.

“Is anything jumping out at you?” she asked, “Anything looking out of the ordinary?”

“Not really,” I said, looking at the boarded window, “but I think I might be able to get one of these boards off.”

“Maybe that’s how whoever took Alfie gets in and out,” Fran suggested, “they just remove some boards then put them back in place.”

I grabbed hold of the loosest looking board and began to pull, and pull, and pull. After almost a minute the board came away, and I stared at the nails that had been hammered through it.

“If someone has been removing the boards and replacing them again, they most definitely must be empowered by the book,” I showed Fran the nails, which were almost twelve inches long, “a normal person could never get these out, or put them back for that matter without making one hell of a racket.”

“So you’re thinking this is where the kidnapper is hold up?” Fran smiled, “, “If they are, the kids might be inside.”

“Stand back,” I said, approaching the window again and cracking my knuckles, “let me try something.”

I began removing the boards from the window, one by one, ever so slowly, until finally there was enough of the window pane visible for us to peer through. I put my face close to the lass, looking in, trying to make out any shapes inside that might indicate the presence of children.
“I’m not seeing anything,” I told Fran, “you take a look.”

“Seriously?” Fran almost laughed, “I wear glasses, remember? If you can’t see anything, I almost definitely won’t.”

“Maybe we should break the glass,” I suggested, “and go inside.”

“Can’t you just pop the lock or something?” Fran asked, “After all, you do have super strength now.”

“True,” I said, feeling a little silly for not thinking of it first. I reached for the lock, which was rusted over from what looked like decades of not being used and popped it easily open. The smell that came from opening the window was stale and old, like musty books or old, damp sheets, and a light breeze blew from an unknown source out to us.

“Well?” Fran looked at me.

“Well what?” I asked.

“Are you going in or what?”

I sighed. As usual, it seemed, it was up to me to take the lead. I pushed the window wider, listening to it creek as it scraped against the window frame and, putting my foot on the ledge, I clambered onto the sill and inside the building.

I turned to help Fran inside, both of us relieved to finally escape the incessant drizzle of the early autumn evening, and before long we were both standing in a large, spacious room that smelled like it had been vacant for years, filled with carboard boxes and old newspapers. The breeze we’d felt from outside seemed stronger somehow, and appeared to be coming from a nearby wall, constructed from what looked like leftover stones from a quarry. I walked to the wall, holding my hand out to it and touching it lightly with my fingers.

It was warm.

“What is it?” Fran asked, walking to stand next to me.

“The wall is warm,” I told her, “yet the rest of this place is freezing cold.”

“It could be a conduit,” Fran said.

“A what?”

“A conduit,” Fran repeated, as if saying the word again would help, “to the spirit world.”

“The spirit world?” I repeated as well, “like with a Ouija board or something?”

“Or something,” Fran agreed, “it might be a doorway to wherever the children are being kept.”

“So where’s the door?” I asked.

“It’s a theoretical door,” Fran explained, “not an actual door. It’s possible that whoever else got cursed now has the ability to create doorways.”

I furrowed my brow, “Can you think of any myths where people can create doorways?” I asked.

“Not off the top of my head,” Fran admitted, “maybe the Narnia books…”

“It could just be a drafty building,” I suggested, “and there might be a boiler behind that wall or something.”

“It’s an external wall,” Fran said, “if anything it would be one of the coldest walls in the place.”

As we discussed the wall, I suddenly heard something in the distance – a sound, a little like flute music or something.

“Shh,” I hissed at Fran, “quick, someone’s coming.”

We ducked behind a nearby pile of boxes, squatting down so we wouldn’t be seen. As we crouched, footsteps began to echo through the building and a cloaked figure emerged as if from nowhere, carrying what looked like some sort of flute.

“Who is it?” Fran asked, “Can you see their face?”

“No,” I whispered back, “be quiet.”

We watched as the figure walked up to the stony wall, and slowly they lifted the flute to their lips and began to play. The whole building began to shake, and we grasped onto the quivering boxes, hoping they wouldn’t fall down and reveal our location. The wall, shaking like the rest of the building, suddenly cracked down the middle and began to open, each half sliding across the floor.

“What are they doing?” I asked, more to myself than to Fran, but Fran still replied.

“Of course,” Fran shook her head, “The Pied Piper Of Hamelin. The missing kids make perfect sense now.”

“But what are they doing?” I asked, “And for that matter, who is it?”

“I’m not sure,” Fran frowned, “I can’t think of anyone with the name Hamelin in town.”

“Anybody with musical names?” I whispered.

“Good point,” Fran said, “maybe we should head back to my place and write up a list.”

“Or we could stop them now,” I suggested, shrugging, “I’m just saying.”

At that moment the stranger in the cloak stopped playing their flute – or should I say pipe – and turned slightly in our direction.

“Uh-oh,” I swallowed nervously, “I think they’ve spotted us.”

As we watched, the Pied Piper put the pipe back to their lips and began to play. Almost instantly the room began to shake again, and the boxes we’d been hiding behind fell on top of us.

“Fran!” I called out, lifting the boxes off myself as the cursed individual ran through the gap in the wall, which started to close after them, “Are you okay?”
I quickly moved the boxes, trying to get to Fran who, from what I could see, was lying unconscious beneath a pile of boxes. I managed to pull her free, and thankfully she was still awake,

“Did they get away?” she asked wearily.

I glanced over at the wall, which had now completely closed after the Pied Piper, “It looks that way,” I said.

I helped Fran back up to her feet, and she dusted down her skirt before standing up straight, “Let’s get out of here,” she said, “we know where this Pied Piper is hanging out now, and by my calculations we’ve got one night left to stop them.”

“Do we need more sedatives?” I asked her.

Fran shook her head, “This one doesn’t look like they’re any kind of monster, so I don’t think we’ll need to worry about stealing from the vets again.”

I walked over to the wall that the Pied Piper had disappeared through, putting my hand to it again. It was still warm, but not as warm as it had been. Looking down at the ground where the wall had slid open, I noticed something twinkling so I bent down to see what it was.

“Fran,” I called out to my new friend, who was still trying to get the dust and dirt off her clothes.

“What is it?” she asked, walking over to me.

“I think we might have a lead,” I smiled, showing her what I’d found.

It was a police officer’s badge.

message 5: by Edward (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments Sorry, this weeks story was severely rushed. My laptop kept crashing on Monday and Tuesday, which really wasn't great. Thanks Microsoft! So I managed to get what I wanted into the story but it feels a little rushed through for me.

message 6: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9618 comments For a novel chapter that was "rushed", you definitely made the most of the time you were given, my friend. I know how frustrating technology can be sometimes, so the fact that you soldiered through it all to bring us this chapter is a testament to your dedication. It was an entertaining chapter, to say the least, with my favorite part being the twist at the end. I'm all in favor of a good twist, so that makes me happy Fran and Helen found the cop's badge. Don't beat yourself up too much over this. All things considered, you did an awesome job. :)

message 7: by Edward (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments Garrison wrote: "For a novel chapter that was "rushed", you definitely made the most of the time you were given, my friend. I know how frustrating technology can be sometimes, so the fact that you soldiered through..."

Cheers fella, and there's still time to get a quick 350 words written, just for fun. Stream of consciousness is always good, and you do it so well in your blog entries. :D

message 8: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9618 comments That's cool of you to say, Edward, but I think I'll pass for today. There's always tomorrow, which is coincidentally the start of a new contest.

message 9: by C. J., Cool yet firm like ice (new)

C. J. Scurria (goodreadscomcj_scurria) | 4309 comments Hey guys. For certain reasons this contest will continue on for a week. I don't think I can put up the new one today so feel free to post!

message 10: by Edward (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments Looks like Garrison has some extra time for this prompt. :D

message 11: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9618 comments Indeed I do. And I've got a perfect idea for this new week: another nonfiction story/blog, this time about the ongoing debate as to whether we as authors should explain our stories or let them speak for themselves. I'll be sure to work the breeze prompt into it. :)

message 12: by Edward (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments I'm sure it'll be a "breeze". Snigger snigger.

message 13: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9618 comments Oh, Edward. Hehehehe!

message 14: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9618 comments AUTHOR: Garrison Kelly
TITLE: Explaining Stories: Carlos vs. Bryan
GENRE: Nonfiction Debate
RATING: PG for mild swearing

I’ve allowed this topic to float away in the breeze for far too long, yet it’s been rolling around in my head since college. At WWU, I had two different writing teachers who had opposite schools of thought when it came to authors explaining their own work. Carlos Martinez, my first multi-genre writing teacher, was of the belief that it’s okay to explain yourself while Bryan Willis, my dramatic writing professor, was adamantly against it and would discourage students from doing so during critique sessions. Today we’re going to look at both sides of that debate and see which among you is on Team Carlos or Team Bryan. Though there will be disagreements, I promise you this debate won’t be nearly as much of a train wreck as the 2016 US Presidential Debates. But that’s an argument for another day.

If you’re in a critiquing session and you want your beta-readers/editors to know what it is they need to watch out for, you’ll probably want to sign up with Team Carlos. That is information your readers need. It’s your work, so you should have full reign as to what your story is trying to say or do. Your editors can’t give you advice on how to best convey your message if you don’t explain yourself ahead of time. Being a member of Team Carlos also has benefits if your work is unintentionally offensive and you’re trying to do damage control. While it is true that there’s always someone out there who will be pissed off at what you do, it would help those people greatly if you put them at ease with a reasonable explanation. But when you give them that explanation, give them the sensitivity they were looking for this whole time and don’t be condescending.

But if what you want most is for your art to be a democracy, join Team Bryan. Art by its very nature is a subjective field. Everybody sees something different and it’s those many interpretations that give the medium the spotlight it deserves. It sparks debate, just like this blog entry is attempting to do. According to Bryan’s way of thinking, if you tell people what to believe, you’re taking away the creativity you yourself exercise so freely. I think this might be part of the reason why my current beta-reader Ashley Uzzell tells me not to put little disclaimers at the top of my poems. Of course, the other reason why she tells me not to do that is because it’s insulting to the reader’s intelligence if the lyrics are blatantly obvious. It’s like if an author says “green grass”, “red blood”, or “big elephant”. Duh! Remember, kids: show, don’t tell. Don’t tell your audience how to feel about your work. Show them and let them make their own decisions. The last time someone forced his artistic will upon his audience, it was in the movie Pink Floyd the Wall during the music videos for “In the Flesh” and “Run Like Hell”. You don’t want to do that.

So there you have it, folks: both sides of this debate presented in full. Both Carlos and Bryan have good points that should be carefully considered, but ultimately, my own personal loyalties lie with Team Carlos. My biggest reason for that is because I’ve been on the wrong end of offending an audience before and I know what it feels like to be rained down upon with hateful comments. In 2009, I wrote an opinion essay called “Class of ‘13”, which was supposed to be a humorously vulgar look at what life would be like if I became an English teacher. My readers didn’t think it was funny at all and labeled me an ageist (because of my views at the time on teenagers). The argument started with me hurling endless insults at the readers, which to nobody’s surprise escalated their anger even further. Only through explaining my work in a calm and collected manner whilst apologizing did the situation eventually cool off. I’ll be the first to admit that aside from my big gut and chubby cheeks, I don’t have much of a thick skin. Being diplomatic and having the ability to defuse a situation is a huge benefit to being on Team Carlos.

Now don’t get me wrong: just because I favor one teacher’s point of view over the other’s, doesn’t mean they’re right or wrong altogether. Both Carlos and Bryan were easily some of my favorite teachers at Western Washington University. They had everything a student could ask for in a professor: friendly personality, flexible rules, infinite wisdom, and an open door policy when it came to asking for help. I particularly liked Bryan because of how much of an interest he took in one of my theater scenes. He wanted to see more of that story come out, so he gave me alternative assignments from the rest of the class where I would add on to the ongoing narrative through different characters’ points of view. The original story was about a high school student named Kurtis who complained to his girlfriend about a D- he received in his history class. One of the alternative assignments I had was to write a monologue from the teacher’s point of view and the other one was an interaction between the girlfriend and the teacher. These new assignments were a huge ego boost, not that my arrogant ass needed one.

As far as why I liked Carlos so much goes (aside from his views on explaining stories), he was just an all around gentle human being even during moments when the students got under his skin. Even when one student openly admitted to not doing a reading assignment out of blatant laziness, Carlos never raised his voice when he reprimanded that kid. He was also delicate about how constructive criticism was handled amongst our stories. He insisted that we all be nice to each other, because at the end of the day, every author is sensitive towards critiques no matter how much they hide it. Carlos even told us a story about how he got pissed off as a kid when his fellow students told him to cut his lengthy poem down to four lines. Being hurt by critiques (whether they’re friendly or not) is universal and one-hundred percent natural. But the more you surround yourself with people who want you to succeed, the less painful those critiques become. Carlos wanted all of us to succeed and it showed in his friendly and calm attitude.

Not that this is a focal point of the greater debate at hand, but in case you’re curious, I ended up getting an A in Carlos’s class and a B+ in Bryan’s class. And to prove it’s not a focal point, I don’t hold any ill will towards one professor of mine, Katie, who gave me a C in my medieval literature class. She did everything she could to help me whether it was answering my questions or allowing me to visit her office for a one-on-one session. The blame for that C falls squarely on my shoulders since I had a hard time understanding the material. I went into that class thinking it was going to be like reading Dungeons & Dragons campaign, but instead all I got was religious zeal and purple prose, lots of purple prose! They call that period in literature the Dark Ages for a reason. That class was my version of the Dark Ages by virtue of how difficult it was to learn the material (despite having a good teacher).

But enough about me, let’s turn this debate over to you fine internet folks. Are you on Team Carlos (explaining your work) or Team Bryan (allowing your work to speak for itself)? Are there any points on either side of this debate that I’ve unintentionally neglected? Feel free to let me know in the comments section. I’m Garrison Kelly! Even when you feel like dying, keep climbing the mountain! And to show you my undying loyalty towards Team Carlos, I’m going to explain my signing off phrase. They’re lyrics from the Three Days Grace song “The Mountain”. Not only do I love the hell out of that band, but those lyrics can be surprisingly inspirational to someone who needs encouragement.

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