April brings another of those months where there are challenges coming out your ears and the usual pressures of Camp NaNo. That means time is limited. So I thought we would go old skool and do a challenge we haven’t done for a while.
Get a timer, set it for 120 seconds and when and ONLY when you are ready to do the challenge, scroll to the very end of the post to see the one word prompt. Write hard and fast until your time is up.
If you want to join in, post your flash in the comments or in a post and link back here. Mine is at the bottom under the word.
You have until 1st May to respond.
Please note, I do read every entry, but as I am taking a breather of sorts from the blog, in order to finish my book, it will take me a few days to read and reply to all your entries.
Two weeks ago I set a challenge to use a fellow writers story title to inspire a story of your own. Here are the fab entries, and the word for this post and my entry for that are right at the bottom.
Barb’s in first using the title: The Case of the Prejudiced Ghost, below is an excerpt from her latest WIP
I always knew my office was haunted. I just never knew I was the ghost.
I’m twenty-four and not even a little bit dead (not counting a persistent headache and a distinct death wish some Wednesday mornings—which might or might not have something to do with the number of beers I refuse to remember drinking if my cousin Carey dragged me to Beer Tuesday the night before). So I don’t usually think of myself as ghostly material, especially when the haunt in question is my office. Or, to be more precise, the Metro station housing my travel-cum-tour guide agency.
It was little things I noticed first. A glimpse here and there of my reflection in places I hadn’t been standing. A few times total strangers came in for tours they said I’d booked. Occasionally, they even thanked me—and paid—for tours I’d never given. Once my roommate Mara told me she’d had a great lunch with me, but I knew I was in class that whole afternoon. We told each other to get more sleep.
Then came the day I agreed to travel outside the City. As Anchor, I almost never leave Null City, especially since it’s been under threat. Looking back, I wonder what might have been different if I’d made it to that meeting.
Jason in next using the title: Buster and Moo
Clank. Clank. Clank.
Moo’s footsteps echoed through the deserted corridors. The building had remained empty since the invasion.
Buster, head down, studied the map that Orla had given him.
“I don’t get it, why would they hide it here?” said Buster.
Moo’s head rotated. He looked at Buster.
“I’m afraid that information was never given to me.”
Moo was uneasy.
“My sensors are detecting life forms heading our way. It will most likely be Nether.”
Buster folded the map away and pointed to the starwell.
“That way, c’mon.”
Moo followed, and together they navigated the debris-strewn stairs. They reached the next floor. A chilly draft greeted them. Buster looked up. Where he would expect to see ceiling, there was only blue sky.
They entered the floor. It was the 78th.
They made their way to the edge. New York was laid out before them like some forgotten cemetery. Iconic landmarks either destroyed or left in ruins.
“They are getting closer,” said Moo.
“I have to find it,” said Buster.
“Master,” started Moo. “Your safety is my primary concern. We must go.”
“Go. Go where, Moo?”
Buster heard rustling from below.
“Master, hold on tight.”
Moo grabbed Buster. “You must survive.”
Moo stepped over.
Jane next who was spoilt for choice and used 5 titles: under stone, haunted tide, oath breakers, drawn toward the sun and return to echoing sun.
They are oathbreakers, she murmured, restless in her bed under stone and root. They were given the care of the earth and they have abused my trust.
There was nothing more to be done, though she wept clouds and oceans of tears. It was time to end the work of aeons and begin again in another world. Perhaps. Gathering up her beautiful scattered dreams of green, blue, rainbow-coloured, soft-furred, perfectly scaled, leafed, feathered, the cold- and the warm-blooded, vegetal, animal, and mineral creations, she said the final words. She called down the stars, summoned back the moon into her dark cradle and let her child Earth change path, drawn towards the sun by the wrong, haunted tide, to return to the echoing waters of oblivion.
Diana has used the title: drawn toward the sun and written a beautiful flash just for this.
I was afraid to open the door, afraid the light would burn my eyes after so many months in the burrow, attuned to its shadowy corners. The others crowded behind me, their eagerness pressing on my back. “Close your eyes,” I warned them and thumbed the latch.
My vision reduced to slits, I cracked the door. The sunlight burned, a white-hot flame searing my retinas. We gasped in unison and paused, breath locked in our chests. I eased the door open, slowly, wider, the heat tumbling down from above with a miasma of foreign smells.
The world had changed. Despite our intelligence and will, despite the technology wielded at our fingertips, mankind hadn’t been able to halt its advance. It rolled over us, unstoppable, transforming the landscape into something ancient and new. I’d expected it, but I was startled, nonetheless.
I shielded my half-lidded eyes. “I’ll go first.” I took a tentative step and then climbed the stairs, my hand tracking the wall for support. The heat baked through my clothes. Creatures stirred in the crooked branches and thorny brambles, and I inhaled the fecund scent of the land. The sun flared and I smiled. Spring had arrived.
Ladylee uses the title: Venus on Earth and writes a memoir
I’ve known Venus since she was born. She’s so beautiful and the youngest in their family and they used to live two doors away from us. We used to call her Nono when we were kids, you know how each one has some sort of nicknames. Anyway, Venus is my cousin, her father was my father’s brother (in spirit, because they grew up together). Venus and her siblings (4 of them) and us (also, 4 of us) were really, really close, as in best mates in everything. We played together, went on holidays together, did all the usual teen-ager fun, parties, secrets, messing around, experiments, and on and on. We shared a lot of experience and memories. Now we are all in different parts of the world with our own families, but we still keep contact with each other and through social media, have seen each other’s photos and have known each other’s news. Last year, Venus and her husband went to Europe for their holidays and my brother and mother saw them in the UK. And every time I fly back to the Philippines, I see them. So she’s our gorgeous Venus on earth.
Next up Judy, with the title All Aboard and a hilarious poem
Whenever I travel by car
I hope that it’s not very far
It gets on my wick
That I always feel sick
It really is very bizarre!
You’ll never get me on a plane
I flew once, but never again!
Throughout the whole flight
I was cowering in fright
I’d much rather go on a train!
I am not much good on a boat
I worry about it staying afloat
The continuous motion
Of the waves in the ocean
Causes sick in the back of my throat!
Travelling by bus or by train
Can become rather a pain
People yelling and shouting
Can spoil the outing
And you’re put off going again!
Jade next using the title: The Case of the Prejudice Ghost
“Trey, tell me that’s not a skull.” The grey-haired detective stared at the half-buried cranium and proceeded to smack his partner upside the head. “Do you know what this means?”
“You’re no longer going to the Bahamas?” The young rookie replied, sure that a bruise was forming from all the times he’d been whacked.
“It means the next skull you’ll find is mine after I tell my wife we’re cancelling our vacation. Again.”
Beside the detectives, a transparent figure huffed in exasperation. “12 years, 4 months, and 27 days and my body’s found by two numbskull cops.”
Gordon next with a little history thrown in for good measure. He’s using the title: Under Stone
“What happened to her?” the young man demanded angrily. “I’ve read the report, but do you think I believe that. There was no attempt to recover her body, and the next day the statue was found, did she find it, was that why you killed her.”
The archaeologist rose, “You need to see the statue, we call it Pandora.”
It stood on a low plinth, a crouching, naked woman, apparently opening something, an expression of absolute horror on her face.
“Look at her face,” the archaeologist ordered.
“It looks just like Maria.” The young man was puzzled.
“On the temple floor we found a stone inscribed ‘Beware of Stone under Stone’. Maria wanted to lift it immediately, I told her to wait. Next morning she went up there alone, when I got there the stone was up, and she was like this. In her glasses I saw a reflection of what was the hole.”
He placed a heavy metal box on a tall column, and slowly raised the lid, inside was a mirror.
“Don’t look inside, just look in the mirror.” He did, and involuntarily screamed.
“But what is it??” the young man shivered in terror.
“Medusa isn’t a legend.”
Geoffle in next using the title: haunted tide with an outrageous story!
The Haunted Tide
‘Fifteen over two years.’
‘And this one, the one they rescued. Same profile as before?’
‘Yes. He’s 15. They’re all teenage boys between 14 and 17. Usually socially inadequate.’ She looked at the young man squeezing a zit. ‘I expect he’s the same.’
Inspector Collins scratched his head. ‘Makes no sense. Everyone knows you don’t mess with the riptide, yet back they go. What’s he saying?’
‘Still shaken but he’s saying it’s haunted. They tempted him.’
‘A voice calls.’
‘What voice? It’s rubbish.’
‘Not necessarily. Larry says youngsters hear things in a different spectrum to adults. He says we should try and record it.’
‘Waste of police time.’
‘Can we try?’
‘It’s seems there is a voice.’
‘We got a recording. Only youngsters hear it. Larry was right.’
‘Well bully for Larry. What’s the voice say?’
‘It’s a woman’s voice. Like an announcement.’
‘What’s it say though?’
There was a shuffling of feet. ‘It’s not great quality.’
‘We may be wrong.’ The glare said more than words. ‘Miss Lawrence will blow you now.’
‘Jennifer. The actress. Every teenage boy’s fantasy.’
They exchanged glances. It was hopeless.
Ritu next, using the title: The Case of the Prejudice Ghost
“I’m sorry mother, but no, I refuse!”
Mrs Darcy sighed, as well as any paranormal apparition could sigh.
Edgar had become increasingly picky lately about his work, and when he would and wouldn’t go out on duty.
She fondly remembered the days of the past, when they would go off to work together, and any living soul sighted, human or animal, was cause for great excitement! He loved the reactions he got, when he was seen. This gory, ghostly apparition, walking towards them, with his head held in his hand, blood dripping from the severed skull as he approached them.
The screams, oh the screams! A sound of pure ecstasy for them!
Their job was done.
More and more ‘ghost hunters’ and thrill seekers started to visit their house, hoping to view the infamous Edgar Darcy, walking the corridors of the old mansion.
This was around the time it happened.
Edgar got big headed (as much as a headless ghost could!) and started to refuse to perform on demand.
He would peer out of the window and sometimes it took just one look at the people coming.
“Absolutely not mother! They’re wearing…Burberry Tracksuits!”
Next Kim, with a piece commended in Esther’s writing competition.
It was her first time on a steam train. She had listened to her grandfather’s stories and wondered what the fuss was about; they sounded noisy, dirty and slow. But she had a few hours to spare and the station was somewhere to keep dry that damp Thursday afternoon.
The platform was empty. She walked up and down, taking in the old-fashioned posters that advertised local seaside resorts. She tried out a seat in the cream and Bakerloo brown waiting room and even explored the manual signal box, both of which were also empty. A chilly gust of wind lifted her hair; she felt goose bumps on her arms when she retrieved a tissue from her sleeve to remove a speck of dust from her eye.
There it was. From around the bend a column of steam unfurled and the rhythmic puffing of the train announced its arrival. As it slowed to a halt, she craned her neck to see if passengers were ready to alight, but the windows stared back at her, black holes like the orbits in a skull.
As she climbed aboard, she looked around for a station master but there didn’t seem to be one. She hoped there would a ticket collector to stamp a hole in her green Edmondson ticket, which she planned to take home to Grandfather.
As the train pulled away, the station lights came on, throwing long shadows on the platform. She could have sworn they were the shadows of people.
Now for the prompt word for this weeks 120 second challenge. The word is:
Here’s my entry…
I rubbed the liquid over my skin, starting with my arms and moving across my chest. Even though it was invisible, it made me feel like I was plated with steel. I stood higher, confident it would make me impervious to his charm. They’d know if I fell in love with him. And I couldn’t. Not if I had to marry my betrothed. But even as he walked through the door, blond curls bouncing over the line of his jaw, I knew the invisible armour was cracking.
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