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 Psychic Hours
by Viola Dawn
Three a.m. Also known as the beginning of the psychic hours. Those last few hours before dawn. Forget the witching hour of midnight. The psychic hours are ones I’d rather be sleeping through. I fell asleep to the soft tapping of an ASMR video. I dig the deep spiritualist stuff, anything with tapping, freaky Reiki magic type videos that are supposed to open up one’s ability to lucid dream.
I can’t exactly prescribe ASMR to my clients, despite being a sleep therapist. But for my own issues, I love it. It’s my full intention to be fresh as a daisy tomorrow.
I’ve got plans with Jimmy. He’s really straight laced so I’m holding back. I don’t wanna scare him by diving in for that first kiss. I don’t want to make him feel like a sex object. He’s a good guy. All the same, it’s left me a bit insecure. He seems to like me but, how much exactly? So I do what any normal person would do when they’re insecure.
I burn dragon blood incense, chant, put my ear buds in and fall asleep to an ASMR video. Hell, it’s better than getting a flower and plucking petals saying “he loves me, he loves me not, he loves me, he loves me not.”
Tap…tap…tap. Yes, tapping on glass always makes me drowsy. So you can imagine my alarm when I open my eyes, ear buds still in and The Woman in Black’s doppelganger is at my bedroom window. Musty lace and Victorian death culture were not what I was hoping for. And why the hell is the tapping sound in the ear buds?
I’m too scared to move and a cold breeze blows across my exposed feet. I’m looking right at her. A vision of black nails scraping across my feet plays in my mind. It’s too chilly, like I’m hollow inside with thin skin and an ice cold breeze is blowing right through me.
Behind the black lace, she smiles and her mouth comes apart. She’s about to speak. I wince, yank out my ear buds but when my eyes are open she isn’t there.
Just crickets. And it’s three am. I’m wide awake and the thing I do to get myself to relax doesn’t seem like such a good idea right now. Freaking psychic hours.
I’m not sure how long I lay there staring at the window, wondering if she’s in my house. I fall asleep to the sound of chirping birds.
There’s a banging sound on the window and I shoot up. It’s Jimmy. He looks worried. I turn, disorientated and hold one finger up at him. “Hold on…Jimmy…hold on.” I mouth the words. He places his hand on his heart, rolling his eyes like he’s so relieved I finally woke up.
I open the door, telling him to come in and he’s through before the words leave my dry lips. He’s wearing his running gear.
“I’ve been calling you for like…an hour. We were going to go for a run, remember? I got worried. Then I knew where your bedroom window is…tapped on it. You looked dead. I mean, white as can be. I could see your phone ringing when tapping didn’t work. You were just…out cold…so I had to bang on the window.”
Oh…running. I’d set my alarm for like 5. Crap.
“Sorry, Jimmy. I haven’t been able to sleep very well lately. I keep waking up at 3 and not being able to go back to sleep. It’s…”
“Claire…I thought you were dead.”
“Yeah, jeez. You’d think I’d have been drinking or something. I even went to sleep in my jogging bottoms…”
Then we both look down at my attire. I’m in my comfy sports bra and off the shoulder sport top but…
“Those are not my pants.”
I’m wearing a pair of sweat pants that look as though they are straight out of an eighties movie. Not like modern, trendy versions or purposefully “stressed” or “vintage” eighties style bottoms….but old. Like they’ve been buried under some moth eaten garments for a of couple decades. They’re ripped in places….as though by sharp nails.
“I need to get out of my house. Can I come to your place?”
“I….uh…yeah….come on.” He agrees.
Jimmy only lives a few houses down. This relationship might not go anywhere but I don’t want him to think I’m crazy. I’d like to still get along with my neighbors. Right now though, I’d rather be anywhere other than my house.
Jimmy opens the door, his brows furrowed, fumbling with his keys. He finally manages to get his own door open. I’m tired. So much so that I’m tempted to ask if I could lie down. But we’ve only been out a couple of times and this would be the first time I’ve ever been inside his house.
“Coffee?” He asks.
“Yes…yes please.” I answer.
“You look like you need perking up.”
“Yeah. Wow…your place is…nice.”
It’s tidy & unique. All Jimmy. He’s got a collection of German beer steins. I know Jimmy plays the accordion and he’s a member of a German-American folk band. I should imagine if I opened his closet, I’d find freshly ironed shirts and lederhosen ready for all the local folk festivals. Not the most every day of hobbies but, he says it keeps him out of trouble.
It dawns on me that I haven’t as of yet taken care of that human need most people have upon waking up. “I’m… sorry to ask you this but,”
“It’s down the hall, first door on the left. It’s cool… you can pee at my house.”
I leave Jimmy to start brewing as I walk down his hallway. I notice he has photos of famous accordion players along the wall. I go into his bathroom. It’s a horrible shade of olive green, but clean. Even the bathroom rug looks freshly shaken out & aired, and the cream colored shower curtain doesn’t betray a hint of use.
It’s like I’ve been transported to a nineteen sixties bachelor’s pad. Jimmy even has a crew cut. He’s so cute.
I wash my hands with his no nonsense soap and check my face in the mirror. I jump back, nearly knocking down Jimmy’s perfect shower curtain. My hand is firmly over my mouth and I stayed silent. It was more of an internal scream.
It’s the lady with the black veil. She’s staring at me from the mirror. I can’t move. She starts to speak and all I can do is widen my eyes.
Her voice is almost sing song, yet has a jarring affect as the mirror’s glass vibrates alongside it. “Bound to my realm now, dear Claire. I suppose you didn’t mean to call me.”
“Dragon blood incense. It’s…one of my favorites. I’m Phobetor, or Ikelos to some, god of nightmares, at your pleasure as it were. So lucid your dreams and thoughts, now reality is the land that time forgot. Solve this subconscious riddle with an honest kiss. Else safety from harm, you’ll dearly miss.”
There’s a demonic edge to Phobetor’s voice, filtered through the Lady in Black form. “What does that mean?”
I’m no stranger to mythology. Phobetor is one of the Oneroi, winged deities, of which Morpheus leads and they work the world of human dreams. Of course Phobetor is where the word “phobia” comes from…you get the idea. He’s the least fun of the Oneroi.
I walk past all Jimmy’s accordion pictures and the smell of coffee hits me. Jimmy is still in the kitchen, in front of the small television atop the breakfast counter, with his accordion in hand. I take a good swig of the coffee. At this point I wish there was booze in it.
He starts playing. It’s a lovely tune at first. Then it changes into something…different.
The music is like a jovial polka but there’s animal noises.
Jimmy’s face snaps up and he looks at me as though he forgot I was there. “Claire. Will you come see me play at the festival? We’re doing a set near the “Little Germany” section. It’s gonna be a real hoot and holler.”
Hoot and holler? I swear sometimes Jimmy is straight out of a nineteen fifties suburb.
He starts playing again and it sounds like a wounded beast groaning along with the chords. Something injured and held against its will. Jimmy closes his eyes and shakes his head in that mad musician style. The type where they look like enraptured but if non musical people try to mimic it they look ridiculous. It’s endearing and nauseating at the same time.
What is that groaning beast noise? The little television appears to be on mute….it couldn’t be that.
“Jimmy?” His head snaps up and he looks at me with wide eyes again.
“Why does your accordion sound possessed?”
He wraps his arms around it like it’s his baby and he needs to protect it.
“My accordion isn’t possessed. It always sounds like that.”
He tilts his head at me. I glance at the television screen. It isn’t on mute. There’s a crow, cawing and flapping its wings on some nature show…I guess. But the crow is looking at me.
Jimmy starts to speak but his voice is muffled & slow. I’m not sure if he’s drunk or I am. My eyes feel dry & heavy. Like they’ve been watering and all the residue of whatever irritated them still clings to my lids and coats my eyeballs.
The crow is still cawing, sounding more distressed. I wearily look to the counter top next to the tv.
There’s a knife. It covered in blood. It’s like the crow is trying to warn me. I look to Jimmy. He smiles, all friendly & wholesome and sets his accordion down next to the knife on the counter. Then he turns, blocking my view of the bloody knife.
“What the….” I start to say. Maybe he’s been meal prepping? The doorbell rings and suddenly everything goes silent.
“Would you please get that?” Jimmy says, his back to me.
“Sure…sure.” I’m too tired to question anything. I’m obviously delirious from lack of rest. I’ll let Jimmy’s guest in and then make my excuses and head home. There’s no creepy Greek god of nightmares in drag hanging at my house…I’m not scared. “Psshhhht” I say, then cover my mouth as I answer the door.
I struggle to adjust to the light, blinking, trying not to appear like I’m on sedatives or half a bottle of vodka.
“Claire…” a voice answered with raised brows.
“Shit…oh sorry, Father.” I slap a hand over my mouth and wince. Idiot. It’s Father Larson. The first priest I ever gave confession to. I was a really good Catholic back in second grade. So, good I was determined to even show myself to the priest. I didn’t do the kneeling behind the curtain thing. I wanted to be punished for my sins.
Bless me father for I have sinned. This is my first confession. I’ve done a lot of naughty things in my time but the worst is how often I’ve thought about Ryan Giovanni kissing me. I struggle to think about other things. I also devised a torture chamber for my Barbies and mother said it wasn’t the sort of thing a little girl should be doing. And I put glitter on my dog. He didn’t seem to care and his fur sparkled but I feel worst about that for some reason.
It had all the makings of a brilliant conversation. Sadly he scowled at me, told me kissing stuff was for grown-ups and prescribed the appropriate number of Hail Marys.
Father Larson clears his throat and says “Claire…haven’t seen you in church since Christmas.”
“Yeah, I go with my folks and sister for Christmas and Easter. I’m on a spiritual…ummm…journey at the moment.” Father Larson raises an eyebrow and I keep talking before he has a chance to question anything.
“Are you here to see Jimmy?”
“Yes, I’m helping organize the festival, so I wanted to come over and go over some details. Are you…helping with the festival too?”
He might as well have added “Jezebel” after that. I should really get out of here. I open my mouth to respond but Jimmy is behind me. “Hello, Father Larson.” He reaches out and pumps the priest’s hand, all business.
Elephant ears and polka aren’t going to organize themselves, I guess. “I’ll leave you to it. Thanks for…playing for me, Jimmy. Sorry we missed our ru-“
“Claire you should stay and finish your coffee.” Jimmy interrupts me.
“Ah…yes…yes stay Claire. It’s good to be involved with the community. The devil makes work for idle thumbs.” Father Larson adds.
“I’d love to but, I really didn’t sleep well last night, I don’t know how much help I’ll be.”
The kitchen television is off. For some reason I miss the crow. I feel like that bird was on my side. Jeez, I’m tired.
Where’d that bloody knife go? I take another sip of coffee.
My knees find the floor seconds before my head. Everything turns black.
Phobetor, god of nightmares summons you to his service, you’d damn well better turn up because he knows where you live. Or she. Or they. Or it. It literally doesn’t matter. Phobetor can make the nightmares go away, or he can make them worse.
Damn…what am I supposed to do? Do I get to kiss Jimmy?
I’m not sure how long I’m out but when I wake up I can’t move. Or talk. My head’s pounding. And there’s something in my mouth.
Inaudible grunting escapes the gag and when my vision comes into focus, it’s Jimmy’s face I see. And the edge of a knife. Behind him is Father Larson, sitting in a chair against the wall. Jimmy, it would seem, has some sort of torture chamber in his basement.
What the even fuck!
“Ssshhhh…Claire, relax. It’s just sleep paralysis. That’s why you can’t move.”
No, I can’t move because you have me bound to a table.
Then, Father Larson pipes up, “Oh, yes. It’s science actually. If we could move while we dream, we’d surely injure ourselves. That’s why sleep walking is so dangerous.” He sounds almost childish. Not the seasoned priest who took my first confession a couple of decades ago.
I am able to turn my head and try to give him a look that says,
Are you serious? Do you seriously think I don’t know that? I studied sleep. I live for sleep. I’m a therapist who specializes in helping insomniacs for goodness sake.
I don’t think Father Larson takes much notice of my look.
Jimmy turns from his knife pointing duties and addresses the old priest, “Are you sure this will work?”
“Yes, I’m sure. You made the sacrifice of a crow and played a tune for him. And you said yourself, Phobetor has a liking for her.”
He’s not always a him. Depends what mood she’s in. The deity of nightmares is rather flexible as far as identity is concerned. Human. Not human. Dead. Undead. Boy, girl. Whatever.
“So, Claire…it’s dawned on me that you never asked what I do for work, outside of my accordion gigs and the folk festival circuit.” Jimmy says.
Yeah…he can do the whole German slap dancing thing too. He might have a knife pointed in my direction but damn he does rock a pair of lederhosen. Jeez, if he was wearing them now and with Father Larson nowhere near, this could whole deal could be a hell of a good time.
Almost as if Jimmy has caught on to my thoughts, he removes my gag. “Okay, Jimmy…why me? Did you only start dating me to use me in some weird ritual?”
He smiles. “Yes and no. Let me explain. I’m a demonologist. You know all the gods and goddesses people used to worship? Well…they are actually demons. I get paid by…varying religious organizations to harness them. You’re the sleep counselor. On the outside you’re all sleep hygiene, no tv before bed. But really you do hocus pocus and all that occult stuff. He likes you. I’ve…got a gift.”
He pauses, waiting for me to express my awe. Suddenly my kinky lederhosen fantasy isn’t as appealing. “Well, first of all congratulations on your gift. Second of all, the ancient Greeks referred to certain demons but the term means something different to them. Phobetor is a deity…he’s not a demon in the churchy sense.”
“I’ve heard enough of this!” Father Larson jumps up now. “We need to go through with this. Harness Phobetor so he’ll inflict nightmares upon this witch, with all her questionable practices. We need to see if this works! If we can turn this one back to Faith then we can turn anyone.”
“So…I’m bait…and a guinea pig?” I look at Jimmy.
“Oh…Claire. He was gonna be visiting you anyway. Look at this as a much more controlled environment than your bedroom. We can protect you from it.”
“Awesome. And by the way, Jimmy….bad move sacrificing the crow. First of all, animal cruelty is horrible. Second of all, Phobetor loves crows and ravens. Killing one will only piss him off.”
A shadow of doubt crosses Jimmy’s face but he shakes it away. He turns and takes a different knife from a drawer next to Father Larson. It’s got the congealed crow blood on it from before. He puts the gag back in my mouth.
This is not going to be fun.
My arm are bound, elbows down on the table so he has easy access to my veins. I don’t look. But it’s instant stinging and warm liquid flows down my flesh.
I scream against the gag. Accordion music plays in the background but I hardly hear it. The priest must be playing…it isn’t as awesome as Jimmy’s playing. This truly feels like a nightmare. I want to wake up. Please, please let me wake up? If anyone can hear me? I’ll do anything.
Then, a cool hand touches my other arm and the pain stops. Father Larson starts shouting “Demonness! Foul Creature! We summon you to put fear in the minds of the godless.”
Jimmy makes a shushing sound and says, “Shut up, Father. This isn’t an exorcism. We want her here and we don’t need to use that tone. This is a negotiation. Right?”
Jimmy seems in his element now. Phobetor raises a brow. Her veil is lifted and her black gown is unbuttoned at the chest, rolled at the sleeves. Like she’s ready to work. If I could compare her to anyone I would say she’s more like Monica Belucci than a…corpse. She looks down at me and one corner of her mouth lifts. She strokes my face & removes the gag.
I’m not necessarily scared of her. She’s….saving me.
Then, she speaks. “You can’t keep me here, I have ways to escape. You’d better give me my crow back.”
“I’ll resurrect your pet when you’ve done our bidding. It takes a…” Jimmy stops and clears his throat.
“Yes, I need a virgin to perform the resurrection ritual. Male. Pure of heart. Though…your pure of heart status is fading fast. Your intentions were good once, Jimmy, when you noticed your gift. But you’ve focused on the virginity bit a lot more than the pure of heart bit.”
Jimmy is a virgin? Wow. That makes so much sense.
Jimmy loses it. “I’m not like you! I won’t just do THAT with anyone!”
Phobetor keeps her cool and responds “Shush, child. There is nothing wrong with you or your preferences. Nothing at all. As there is nothing wrong with mine. Or hers. His though…” she gestures to Father Larson before continuing “…there might be a few things wrong with his. Now then…a nightmare you say?”
Father Larson’s usual ruddy color drains from his face.
“Yes.” Jimmy says through grit teeth. Father Larson stays silent, wringing his hands and keeping his seat. He wants to speak. But I think this is his first dealing with an actual deity.
“You wanted to get to know Claire…see where things went. Then this job came along. Lots of money.”
As Phobetor speaks, she strokes my right arm with her nails. It brings a familiar tingling sensation.
“Stop. Just begin.” Jimmy says, though his voice wavers. He doesn’t want to see me hurt, but he feels by trapping this demon, he’s doing a good thing.
“Very well. Pick up your knife.”
Jimmy swallows, his Adams Apple bobs. Reckon he thought this was going to be more of an internal thing. Like she’d just screw with my head. Rather than him having to get involved.
Phobetor lowers her face down to mine. Her tongue brushes my lips and she leans to whisper in my ear, “He’s going to take your heart. I could have him cut off your fingers. But let’s start with exorcising your demons…and getting me out of this trap.”
Father Larson is above me, his sausage fingers spread out as he carries on with himself “Lord! We beseech you to bring this child back to your service. Rid her of wicked thoughts…that she’s always had. Her wanton appetites….”
Father Larson starts listing all the things I’ve done wrong. Some are not what you’d call, bad girl cool. More are just dumb.
“When she took her ken doll with her to school and told all the children he would turn real for her one day and be her loving husband and they all laughed.”
Oh god…this is embarrassing. That thing with Ken was so temporary.
“Or the time she got locked in the bathroom & ate a multi pack of candy bars thinking she’d starve so she might as well go out happy then threw up and was rescued within five minutes of being locked in the bathroom.”
“Or on a school camping trip, so envious was she of Stacy Bolster and Simon Bayliss, sleeping in one another’s embrace….she dropped her fork and knife near them on purpose.”
It goes on…my deadly sins. When is Jimmy going to start removing my fingers? The worst is anger. I punched my sister Jenny on the nose, pulled her hair and screamed in her face when she taped over Dark Shadows. Dad had to step in or I might have really hurt her. I’ve always had a temper but that was not my finest hour. Jenny has called me Psycho Claire ever since. Also, I’m glad entertainment technology has moved on.
Jimmy looks down on me like he’s disgusted. And….a little turned on. He swallows back that expression. “We’ve got her…she’ll stay…”
My eyes glance at Phobetor. The lady in black form shifts to something else. She turns into Jimmy. Neither Jimmy nor Father Larson seem to notice this change. Jimmy’s actual voice is in my head.
“I need help, Claire. I’m in over my head with all this demon rustling business. Things I used to think were right I’m not sure about anymore. Things I thought were wrong, I think might be right. I’m a little scared, Claire, but I want you. And I need your help.”
Phobetor’s, in Jimmy form, tongue slips into my mouth and I’m lost. He…she knows everything about me. Like, everything. Yet still kisses me like I’m okay. Despite my violent rages, my perverse imagination, my obsessions, my weaknesses and insecurities. Phobetor likes me. Wants me. Jimmy likes me. Real Jimmy doesn’t cut me again, but I feel his hand on my wounded arm. It doesn’t hurt anymore. I feel his eyes on my heart. He wants it. Shit, is he going to cut it out? This is the weirdest and possibly best make-out session ever. I wholeheartedly surrender to it.
Then, it’s Father Larson who jumps up, shouting “No! We had a deal! We’ll do this my way!”
I’m helpless…I can’t move as he picks up a sword and runs it through Jimmy, across into Phobetor, who had snapped up at the priest’s outburst.
Then, the most horrible screaming rings out into the air. Like someone in total agony. It’s the sword. It’s screaming in pain.
Jimmy and Phobetor are fine…not a scratch. Words echo in my head,
Solve this subconscious riddle with an honest kiss. Else safety from harm, you’ll dearly miss.
Tap, tap, tap. I wake up. Jimmy is tapping on my window. We smile at one another through the glass and I rush to the door to let him in.
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