Here are the selected writing prompts for April 2019! Everyone picked 8, put them in any order they desired and wrote a 5,000 words or less short story, poem, play, limerick, or song. Here’s your chance to discover how different your writer’s voice is. No two stories are alike!
These are not my pants.
There's a strange woman at the window.
Air, precious air.
Hero finds a bloody knife in significant other's home.
Hero's significant other is missing.
He pulled the sword free, then dropped it as it screamed in pain.
The door opens on the last person you want to see.
My accordion isn't possessed. It always sounds like that.
Main character receives news that he/she did not anticipate
character wakes bound, gagged & with enemy looking at them holding a knife/dagger.
The Devouring Beast
by Mark Dubovec
I awoke to darkness, feeling like the world was pressed against my face. I struggled to tear myself free, but I only twisted further into the mess of black oblivion. I tried to scream but could not find my mouth. My lungs begged for release and my heart nearly erupted.
Finally, I pulled free from my blanket and sat up in bed, relieved I wouldn’t miss work because I suffocated in my sleep. The cracked-open window brought in a cool, gentle breeze that kissed my bare skin.
“Air, precious air,” I said. It tasted better than the coffee and orange juice waiting in the kitchen.
I remained half-asleep, my eyes still sensitive to the morning sun pouring in. I spun my feet off the bed and planted them on a pile of hastily discarded clothes on the carpet. Without looking, I reached down, pulled on a wrinkled t-shirt, and followed that by grabbing a pair of jeans. As I struggled to yank them up, the denim cutting into the back of my thighs, I realized something.
“These aren’t my pants,” I said, standing up as I slid out of the jeans.
I looked around. This wasn’t my room. This wasn’t my bed.
I had never seen this room before. Instead of a tan curtain, a colorful, flowery spread hung open at the window. My various movie posters were gone, leaving only blank walls and the occasional photograph of mountains and oceans. The bed was new, soft, and comfortable. The thick maroon comforter didn’t resemble my thin, patched brown blanket in the slightest.
“What’s going on here?” I asked. I was in a room I had never been in before with clothes that didn’t fit me. Was I going crazy? Was I dead, trapped in some weird purgatory? Or Hell? It definitely wasn’t Heaven.
I clasped my face in both hands and rubbed my cheeks and eyes, feeling the warmth sprout over me. When I took my hands away and opened my eyes, I saw her: the strange woman in the window.
She looked at me the way a scientist looks at a mouse, as if I was something small and useful. I couldn’t tell how old she was. She could have been 30 or 60 or 200 for all I knew. Her red hair was long and dark; it hung past her shoulders and was completely straight.
She wore thick, black-rimmed glasses, which enlarged her eyes. I wasn’t sure, but her eyes, instead of white, looked acid yellow, the pupils solid purple.
The woman smiled when she noticed me looking at her and waved me over. I didn’t want to go to her. Something felt off, but my muscles obeyed her and carried me over. She rattled the glass with a long, bony finger, the nail painted bright green, and I opened the window the rest of the way. She leaned through the threshold.
“About time you woke up, Mr. Livingston,” she said as if greeting an old friend.
“That’s not my name,” I said.
She cocked her head to the side, like a curious puppy. “Oh really? Then, pray, tell me. What is your name?”
“It’s…” I began but could not finish. I couldn’t remember. I just knew it wasn’t Livingston. Like the pants from before, it didn’t fit. “I don’t know.”
“Well,” she continued,” you seem certain about that. I’ll take your word for it, even though you look an awfully lot like Mr. Livingston, and you are in his house.”
She nodded. “Oh yes. He’s lived here ever since he was a little boy.” She looked me over, from my bare feet to my shaggy-haired head and unshaven face. “Were you ever a little boy, Mr. I’m-not-Mr.-Livingston, or did you just sprout fully grown from the ground as you are?”
I stared at her, dumbfounded. I didn’t know what to say, unsure whether she was being serious or pulling my leg.
Before I could do anything else, she pulled something from deep within her brown outfit and presented it with both hands. I couldn’t tell what it was, some strange contraption, flexible and soft in some places, hard and square in others. It looked like an oversized typewriter with an air chute in the middle
“Recognize this?” she asked. I shook my head. “It’s my accordion, my favorite musical instrument. I play dozens of instruments: drums, guitar, flute, xylophone, trumpet, triangle, but I prefer the accordion above all else.”
She played it, and I collapsed to my knees, my hands clamped over my ears. Never have I heard so painfully unholy of sound. I thought for sure my ears were going to bleed. The sound practically attacked me, drilling into my skull and stabbing my brain.
“Stop it! Stop it! Stop it!” I begged, and the noise ceased. The strange woman looked at me curiously.
“You really aren’t Mr. Livingston. He enjoyed my playing.”
“What was that god awful sound?” I asked.
She rolled her eyes and put the instrument away. “Don’t worry. My accordion isn’t possessed. It always sounds like that.” She said that as if it was the most normal thing in the world and I was the crazy person for questioning her.
“I can’t imagine it sounding any worse that.”
“Don’t worry. I get it inspected every seven months. Only been occupied by a demon twice in the last five years. The last one, Beezlemouth, was such a pain to get rid of.”
“You mean Beelzebub?”
She glared at me as if I was stupid. “No, Beezlemouth. Beezlebub knows better than to mess around with my accordion.”
“Oh yeah, right,” I said. In my mind, I wanted to scream.
“Well,” she continued, “I best introduce myself. I’m Mary Proudfoot de la Alderaan, and you are? Oh, silly me, I forgot. You can’t recall your own name. Well, then, I best give you a moniker. Otherwise, it will be very awkward to keep having to call you You or something like that.
“Any name you prefer? This is quite the golden opportunity for such a strapping young man like you. You can pick any name you want. Any name. Any name. Any time now.”
Before I could think of a name, she cut me off. “Fine, I’ll give you one if you aren’t in a hurry to give yourself one.” Again, she looked me over, licking her lips as she did so and rubbing her chin with two fingers.
“I dub thee….”
She paused for dramatic effect.
“Justin Busterton. What do you think?”
I didn’t know what to think. Justin was OK, I supposed, but Busterton, did anyone have a name like that?
“Well,” she continued, “it doesn’t matter what you think. It’s what I’m going to call you, Justin.”
I shrugged. It was best to go along with her for the time being. I still felt lost and disoriented, and Mary Proudfoot seemed friendly if kooky.
“I have news for you, Justin,” she said. “This is serious business.”
“What is it?”
“You and I are going to save the world.”
That was not the news I anticipated.
“What?” I asked.
“Oh, yes,” she said. “If we don’t do something, the world will be destroyed, everyone in it dead, and I will never again know the joys of a good foot scraping.”
“I don’t believe it.”
“Well, you should, Justin. When you’re as old as me, you’ll learn to appreciate the joy of taking off your shoes as the end of the day, combing off the dead skin on the bottom, and then soaking your feet in warm, soothing water. Believe me, that’s the only reason I want to save this crummy world.
“Surely, you have a reason you want to save the world, don’t you, Justin?”
“Well, I like being alive.”
Mary snorted. “Whatever. I think it’s overrated. Being dead is quite the thrill. That’s why I’ve died three times, and I’m always annoyed with every resurrection, but hey, it’s your reason, not mine. It’s good enough if you’re willing to help me.”
“Sure, I guess.”
She smiled, and I felt uneasy. She looked like she had more teeth than should have been able to fit into her mouth, and I couldn’t help but wonder what she needed so many teeth for. I know, it’s a dumb thing to wonder, but I wasn’t thinking straight.
“Then follow me, Justin.” I turned toward the door. “No,” she said. She beckoned. “Through the window. We have to do this right. Through the window.”
I shrugged, no longer questioning what was happening. As I straddled through the frame, I thought of something. “Shouldn’t I be dressed?” I slid out and fell, rolling until I landed at her feet. “Something more appropriate for like a battle or…”
She turned and looked down at me. “But you’re already dressed for battle, Justin. Stand up and see.”
I obeyed. I was no longer clad in a t-shirt and boxers. I wore a suit of armor and chainmail vest. My boots were iron and clomped with every step. I felt like I was wearing a washing machine.
“Whoa,” I said. “I don’t remember putting this on.”
“Of course you don’t,” Mary said. “You’re the hero. Heroes don’t have time for those silly things. Now come along and we will get you a weapon.”
The suburban neighborhood of single-story houses and on-street parking evaporated. We were in a forest. A light mist coated the ground. In the distance, I heard the baying of wolves and the rumbling thunder of an unseen storm.
“Stick close, Justin,” Mary said. “If you get lost, there’s no telling what you’ll be transformed into.”
“A giant skeleton perhaps. Maybe a nest of spider eggs. Maybe even a dung beetle. Staying in my aura will keep you safe?”
“I keep it up to strength with whole grains, regular exercise, and coating my skin in egg yolks.”
“Does that really help?”
“Well, I can’t be certain about the exercise, but it helps to keep the cardiovascular system strong in case we need to run. Like now. Run!”
Mary dashed ahead without giving me the chance to ask why, so I followed suit, running as fast as I could. It wasn’t easy. The armor weighed a ton and clamped tightly on my knees and elbows.
Mary yelled something to me, but I couldn’t tell what. I struggled to catch up with her. Again, she yelled something indistinct. I pressed on harder, my suit filling up with sweat.
She yelled again. This time, I noticed she wasn’t turning to yell, which explained why it was so hard to hear her. I caught some of the words and waited for her to yell again. She obliged.
“Don’t look back no matter what!”
Was something chasing us? A twinge in my neck commanded me to turn. It shouldn’t have been difficult to catch a quick glance…
“DON’T DO IT!” Mary screamed.
She hadn’t turned, but somehow, she knew I was about to look.
We reached a clearing in the woods, a round opening free of trees and brush. In the center, a pedestal jutted out of the ground. From it, the handle of a sword extended toward the sky. I knew it was a sword. I had never seen one in real life, but I recognized the blue hilt and yellow triangles. It had to have been…
“Yes,” Mary said. “It is the Master Sword the legends speak of.” She wrapped herself in a cloak, sweating and breathing hard. She shivered. “Don’t worry. We’re safe in this domain. We’re protected.” She started toward the pedestal. “It’s safe to look now. It’s gone.”
“What’s gone?” I looked back the way we came. All I saw were trees.
“We don’t have a name for that dreadful horror. If you had gazed upon it, you would have been frozen with terror, and it would have claimed you, and that would have been no good. I need you.”
I followed her. “The world needs a hero, Justin,” she continued. “I think it’s you.”
“Because you’re the only human left in the world.”
She nodded. “Everyone else died or fled the planet while you were sleeping. As you might have guessed, I am not of mortal origin. It was amazing luck I found you when I did. If I hadn’t found you, it would gotten you.”
“The unnamable dreadful horror?”
“No, don’t be ridiculous. That only lives in the forest. The Devouring Beast would have gotten you.”
“It’s a beast that eats all life in its path.”
“Yeah,” I said. “The name kind of gave that part away.”
We reached the sword. It glowed in the misty sunlight. I swear I could hear the sound of distant singing as I approached it. It sounded like a faint church choir. The sword beckoned me.
“Claim the sword, Justin,” Mary said. “Take it, and slay the Devouring Beast, and we will save the world.”
I shrugged. “Ok.”
I clasped the hilt and pulled. Power flowed up the blade and through my arms, through my entire being. It felt almost electric. Every muscle in my body swelled with raw energy. I could conquer the world with this mighty weapon. I held the sword above my head, posed as the mighty warrior.
The sword screamed. I dropped it and backed away. It landed in the dirt but still it screamed, blood-curdling and shrill.
“What the …?”
“It seems I was wrong,” Mary said behind me. “You are not the hero I sought.”
“I don’t understand.”
“You are not worthy.” Her voice sounded different: deeper, distorted, rumbling, gurgling.
If I didn’t look, nothing bad will happen, I thought. No look, nothing bad..
I twisted around slowly, as if pulled by a wire. Mary stood there, wrapped and huddled in her cloak. I leaned closer.
“Mary, I’m sorry?”
She leapt from her cloak, no longer Mary, transformed into something hideous and hungry. I couldn’t move, her claws and fangs inches from my throat.
I woke up, again encased in darkness. My head throbbed. I wanted to throw up, but something was shoved in my mouth. I tried to touch my face, but my arms were bound behind my back. I looked around.
I was hogtied and dangling from a hook in the ceiling. The only light in the room came from the fireplace. Some unknown meat roasted in it. Everything else was pitch black.
The orange light bathed me in a warm glow. Beyond the reach of the light, in the shadows, was nothing. No room. No Mary. No forest. No Devouring Beast. This was my world, my universe.
Someone held a blade to my throat.
“If you won’t save the world,” the person said, “we are going to eat you.”
I tried to scream but couldn’t. I was paralyzed, the cold metal against my skin. I heard the sound of something being dragged and looked. A basin, to collect my blood, rested underneath.
“Now it’s time,” the voice said. “Prepare your throat.”
I woke up again. I was in my bed, my own bed, the bed I recognized.
I looked around. It was my room. I looked at the window. No strange woman beckoning me through to fetch a sword and go on a quest to save the world.
I climbed out of bed and pulled on my pants. They fit, and I almost cried with joy. I went to the kitchen and poured myself a glass of orange juice. It tasted sweet and pulpy. I was still drinking it when I heard a knock at the door. I was still holding it when I answered. I dropped it when I opened the door. The glass shattered into a million pieces.
It was the last person I wanted to see standing on my front porch.
Mary smiled when she saw me. “About time you woke up, Justin.”
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