Creative Copy Challenge #113

Today we have Jace Daniel Albao choosing the words for today’s psychologically thrilling challenge. He blogged a novel called Under Angels in 2009, adapted it to a screenplay in 2010, and has put both pieces on the market in 2011. Check him out. Now on to the show.

BET YOU CAN’T do this writing prompt. Take the 10 random words below and, in the comments, crush writer’s block by creating a cohesive, creative short story tying all of them together! And remember: after (if) you finish, highlight your words and click the bold button to make them stand out and help you determine if you forgot any words. (If you’ve missed previous writing prompts, we BET YOU CAN’T do those, either.)

  1. Under
  2. Angels 
  3. Code
  4. Tunnels
  5. Incognito – disguised or concealed
  6. Quota
  7. Dog
  8. War
  9. Wife
  10. Puzzle

NOTE: Don’t copy and paste from MS Word. Use a program like notepad that removes formatting or just type in the comment field itself. Also, finish your submission, THEN bold the words. Thanks. (And don’t forget to tweet this and share it with your friends.)

Resources you should check out:
Thesis: Best Damn Theme on the Web
Collective Ink Well: Personalize Your Thesis Theme
Third Tribe Marketing: Marketing done the right way
Story Structure Demystified: Best damn writing book out there


190 Comments on “Creative Copy Challenge #113”

  1. Shane Arthur says:

    Programming Note: Today’s a terrible day for me. My back is beyond sore today. I can’t do my own challenge and I won’t be around much today to comment or move stuff out of moderation. Bear with me until this pain goes away. I’ll try to check in if my pain pills kick in strong enough to sit. Thanks Jaced for picking the words today.

  2. Cathy Miller says:

    Death & the Detective series
    He flew under her radar and she did not remember. Soon she would be singing with angels as the devil inside triumphed once more. He watched, though she did not see, as she entered the code into the door. It did not matter. He memorized the code.

    His rage built through the tunnels of his mind as he knew he was an incognito form unrecognized by her and all the rest. This wasn’t about a quota. This was revenge, in its purest form. The rest meant nothing. But, she was different. She would regret how she kicked him to the curb like a recalcitrant dog.

    His felt the memories war with his need to suppress them. They pounded at him like a nagging wife, in a kaleidoscope puzzle that was his life. He fought for control, as once more he became the hunter.

    Detective Connors walked past the precinct’s front desk, greeting Angie, the volunteer receptionist.

    “Detective Connors, have you seen Dr. Sweeney?”

    Refraining from uttering the sarcastic response that rose to mind, the detective merely replied, “No, why?”

    “She had an appointment with the profiler from Larkspur half an hour ago and she hasn’t shown up. That’s not like Dr. Sweeney.

    No, it wasn’t – at all

  3. Shane Arthur says:

    If I go under and see angels in tunnels, will I get the code to incognito this pain?

    I’ve reached my pain tolerance quota, God.

    I’m a drenched dog in a winless war; nowhere near the indestructible man my wife married.

    God, if this is a puzzle, I either have the wrong pieces, or deserve the ones you gave me.

  4. nebunia says:

    ” Jurnal entry. The year is 2013. I am still under the town, in the canalization system. I feel llike a dog, but I was lucky to figure out the entire puzzle behind the war. I’ve surely done my quota for the human race managing to warn a few of people and take them here with me because I believe this war could end with a nuclear bomb. Unfortunately I didn’t had enough time to get my wife to safety, I’m afraid she’s gone by now.
    Me and the others created a code for comunicating when it will be safe to go out, but i’m afraid we’ll have to resort to cannibalism in order to survive. Hopefully we can stay incognito for another week or so.
    Nothing to do, but to explore this tunnels and wait for the angels to apear and end this war, as it says in the Bible. The only thing we can do is pray and wait. Entry over. ”

  5. A dog barked in the distance. Marty froze. His breath rose into the frigid air, the heaving gasp of an inadvertent fallen angel clinging to a mere tree in a icy forest. He knew those tunnels were around here somewhere. He crouched under a low branch and muttered a hollow prayer.
    He’d been on the run and incognito since he mistakenly cracked the code. He’d slept in burned out cars and sunken plots of earth. He hadn’t seen his wife in days; he wasn’t sure he’d ever see her again. He thought of her, standing at the sink, washing her hands, smelling of lemon and cake and….what? What was that lingering, unidentified fragrance that wafted to him, crippling his reason when she brushed her hair away from her elegant jaw?
    He shook himself; he’d long reached the quota on reminiscences. Now was the time to run, to puzzle through this maze of confusion and landmarks to locate the underground promise of safety. His body and his head raged in war as he struggled to push aside thoughts of her and tried to remember the path, tried to formulate a plan.
    One more deep breath, he set his shoulders and ran.

    • margaret says:

      Sounds like a great cliffhanger, Jennifer, good write!

      • Thanks, Margaret. What I find so fascinating about these challenges is that as I read the words, I get an instant image in my head about what I want to write. I wonder where they come from, if they are goofy (and by default, if I”m goofy)  and if others experience the same thing? I just find it so captivating.

        • margaret says:

          I do the same thing, Jennifer. I know within a couple of minutes which direction it will take and then it just flows.  Goofy and sarcastic is my specialty, and come pretty easily. I have friends that I have begged for months to try it and they just find it too daunting.  For me, these are usually just fun.  However, don’t ask me to do computer stuff that my same friends
          tell me is a no brainer because I’m a techno-tard and no-can-do. 

        • Shane Arthur says:

          @Jennifer: I still remember the first time I did one of these. I sat there looking at what I wrote thinking how magical it was. I did them regularly for years but never thought to create a site around it until last year. Once we started the CCC and I did challenge #1 the magic returned for me. There is indeed something magical about the process and how themes and concepts seem to pop out of our heads. I believe the site coaxes them out of us.

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Jennifer: I love when I can see through a writer’s words, how much they love to write. I got that here. Super indeed. Loved the line “he set his shoulders.”

    • Yep, Jennifer, we are all of us goofy, after a fashion. That’s what imagination is all about!
      But there is nothing goofy about this gripping tale. You dropped us right in the middle of something very intriguing!

    • jaced says:

      Lemon cake. Yes.

    • Cathy Miller says:

      @Jennifer-excellent story-you can feel the fear

  6. margaret says:

    I could go through tunnels that go under the ocean;
    travel incognito with invisible lotion.
    I could speak in code only dogs could decipher.
    I could pass as a housewife, a domestic lifer.
    But I can’t solve the puzzle of why there is war.
    We’ve met our quota of violence and gore.
    I want all people to be nice and exist
    in a world fit for angels, cuz I hate being pissed!

  7. […] I’ll be having some fun watching these come in all day before posting mine. Meanwhile, feel free to get in there! […]

  8. Ember Bianco says:

    With Angels under way, a heavy mist crowds the air that is already filled with dark suspense, the dog has been let loose to scour cautiously through the tunnels; a quota needs to be met, yet shrouded in a code of silence the army wife travels incognito in the opposite direction. This war at hand is a complicated puzzle for it leaves not a clue as to where each one will end up…

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Ember: welcome to the CCC. I love the style you used with this one. Give us a little, but make us have questions about the details that we must use our imaginations to fill in. Everyone welcome Ember to our addiction.

      • Ember Bianco says:

        Thanks Shane for the double thumbs up, I too am already addicted to this site and because I dabble here and there in promoting online networking sites I’ll be sure to spread this one around where possible. I also welcome any constructive criticism, praise, or thoughts and comments from any other writers. I’m so addicted to this site that for the first time in my writing history I have written a prose of fiction. I always write non-fiction, but I got an itch to try and finish the story above and I have! With your permission I’d like to print it here first if I may, It’s a short story of 600 words (Also a first,) Thanks for creating such an inspirational place to share.

        • Shane Arthur says:

          @Ember: Sure! Let us see it. 🙂

          • Ember Bianco says:

            Great! Okay here it goes…                                                                      

                                              MOMENTS IN SUSPENSION
            With Angels under way, a heavy mist crowds the air that is already filled with dark suspense, the dog has been let loose to scour cautiously through the tunnels; a quota needs to be met, yet shrouded in a code of silence the army wife travels incognito in the opposite direction. This war at hand is a complicated puzzle for it leaves not a clue as to where each one will end up…  
            All Elisa wants is for it to be simple. Although she well knows affairs of the heart, as is with any important moment, is truly seldom left to chance. “What am I doing,” her thoughts sing out loud only to be drowned in guilty silence. Far away the same thought is echoed, though he knows not the origin of his fear. The man that he is and the man that he wants to become are the same and yet he has much trouble in realizing this to be truth. As he battles with fears known as well as those he looks not forward towards having, time escapes, precious time that will change the face of what each has buried in their soul.
            When we look at a picture from a far, we don’t always see what is meant to be viewed anymore then as if we were to gaze at it inquisitively for the first time up close. This is what happens when one wants so badly to believe in what they will, as opposed to what is real, what is so real that it can be felt but none the less chosen to be ignored.
            Hope. Hope is real, isn’t it? “Yes.” “Yes!”  I know this can be,” as Elisa breaths those very thoughts with encouragement from deep within, she begins to believe how it may be possible to receive what she cannot see that she already possesses, of which barely lies under the fragile surface of her core being . An intangible thought, a new way, “I know this can be,” she repeats “and this can be done.” “It is simple, as simple as I will it to be and all I have to do is change,” “Simply change how I have viewed circumstances of the past, no more ill thoughts for no good reason.” “A renewed me, one that is whole, not fragmented frail and broken, only one which wills memories of good and warmth.” “This is the secret, the one I’ve so longed to be revealed.” Then she takes another breath and a long sigh of relief.
            Finally she has arrived. Elisa has unwittingly arrived at her fate and her wishes, her final destination. David looks out his window and knows he must also face his challenges with renewed spirit. Yes he still has fear, but fear can be healthy, cautious fear is sometimes good when it is used optimistically. David knows Elisa is different from any other women, different from all of the women that he has ever known, and it because of this he knows he must extend his heart and simultaneously his fears to become the real man that any deserving women would be proud to bring into her life. …And So It Goes
            The Angels have won this war and the battle is no more. Miracles happen, souls brought together to meet a quota of One. The heart needs no longer to be silenced, fears and happiness surface for better or for worse but always with loyalty. And for Rex, David joyfully extends his hand down to reassure ‘Man’s best friend’ that he as well, will always be loved with an honest heart…                     

          • Shane Arthur says:

            @Ember: you left me in wonderful suspension. Well done.

      • Cathy Miller says:

        @Ember-Welcome to CCC!

        Here words fly under the protective wings of creative angels that know the code to breaking through to the inner muse. Submission after submission tunnels its way to a community that welcomes it home. The incognito look of the writer within burst free in artistic gems that know no quota.

        With Shane as the alpha dog, the only war here is the battle of words. The husband and wife marriage of the challenge and words offers a puzzle too good to be solved.


    • Hi Ember, and welcome to the Creative Crackhouse! (Was that rude? It’s what we do – it’s all words, right?)
      Your words are a swift hit on the imagination pipe, for sure. This is great stuff.

    • jaced says:

      This is a pickle, Ember! This is a pickle!

  9. Ember Bianco says:

    Hello Shane,
    I’m new to your site; I found it early this morning around 10:00 am EST, courtesy of Ann Wyman’s newsletter and blog called About Freelance Writing. Back again and I just realized that I failed to press the submit button, my bad because I wanted to be one of the first to post. Sorry that my contributing story is so short, because I usually write long short stories this entry would normally be just a teaser intro. This little micro exercise took only 1 minute and 22 seconds, if timing matters. Also, I often like to set a backdrop of music to my stories with my own music compilations. For this up and coming storyline I’ve chosen to start off with ‘And So It Goes’ by Billy Joel .  

    Now for your back ailment, may I suggest that you look into “Upper Cervical Care” for chronic pain. It pleasantly involves no meds or serious invasive practices (Kind of ironic coming from a former nurse.) Click on the link above to learn about the treatment and help finding a local practioner. Best wishes, I hope it helps.


    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Ember: Thanks for the link. I’ll look into it. And, no, we don’t have a thing against short entries at all. Jaced is the king of short form entries around here and several other people use the short form too. Any form is good here as long as you write. Some people also time themselves, and some people even do the challenges in order, reverse order, odd and even order, etc.

  10. Explosive gases seeped incognito through the tunnels of abandoned mines. That there were no humans to detect them was testimony to the vicious war between the Angels of Hell and the Spartan dog God, Anubis IV. Mankind was caught in the crossfire, unprepared for the Olympian marathon of fire, brimstone, natron and bitumen. The incendiary apocalypse destroyed every homo sapiens on Earth.

    Except the wife of Stephen Hawking. Having warned her not to talk to the aliens, he prepared her for surviving any attack, short of a nuclear holocaust. He trained her to be physically superior, mentally sharper and more spiritually attuned than anyone with an I.Q. of 102 had any right to be. Hawking had devised a secret code for communicating with his wife. This had allowed her to progress very quickly through his training program.

    Her daily regimen consisted of biathlon training, solving one cryptic crossword puzzle and meditating in the Vedic tradition. Each day that she failed to complete her quota, she was required to walk across a bed of hot coals. Within ten years, he pronounced her nearly ready for transcendence to deity. Her final task was to build a hut in Mystic, Iowa.

    The day she set out from Oxford, all hell broke loose. It was day one of the afore-mentioned apocalypse. Hoping to avoid Angels and Anubis IV, the wife of Stephen Hawking took her time swimming across the pond. As it turned out, that was the safest place to be for the next six days. When she came ashore at Plymouth Rock, the irony was not lost on her. She ran across America.

    Arriving in south-central Iowa, the wife of Stephen Hawking contemplated the majesty of an unmolested landscape. The gas, dancing madly in the warrens under her feet, crept to the surface and waited while she went to work. Her body glistened with sweat as she hacked down trees, braided hemp and molded stuffing out of leaves and mud. The hut was finished in the time it took the sun to travel across the sky twice.

    On the eve of the third day, the wife of Stephen Hawking decided she wanted a clay floor for her hut. The better to hold her cooking pit, she reasoned. She swam out to the middle of the nearby river, dove 30 feet to the silt and dragged up great handfuls of clayey material. After a dozen trips, the clay floor was completed. Before it had hardened completely, she molded a depression in the center of the hut and lined it with the great stones that abundantly littered the plain. While the floor cured, she hunted.

    On the eve of the sixth day, the wife of Stephen Hawking returned to her hut, laden with rabbits, possum and a very unlucky pelican. She dressed the kill, seasoned it and wrapped each in edible leaves. She reached for her tinder and flint.

  11. Joe Passmore says:

    The Dogs of War are gathered incognito. Standing, waiting for the code. Doesn’t know the when or wherefore. Or that he features in someone else’s sights at night.
    At home, young wife sits lonely. Finger-gnawed. Jigsaw puzzle. Watching a tousle of yellow curls crawl under Dora the Explorer tunnels sent by Santa-dad. Really they were bought in Wal Mart. Are there reindeers in the desert?
    It keeps her mind from the dreaded door-knock.
    Angels. Have we reached today’s quota? When will the Gods of War decide?

  12. […] Participate in the Creative Copy Challenge here. […]

  13. Anne Wayman says:

    To Shane when he’s better:

    I’m under the weather too. It’s a @#$! cold. Only angels have the code that tunnels through the sinuses incognito eating their quota of cold kooties. Thank the Dogs of War I’m no longer a wife, and that my back doesn’t hurt like Shane’s! Life, including stopped up itchy nose and dripping eye, and over the top back pain is a puzzle.

    • Ouch, Anne. Sounds like you could use a hug and some tea with honey. 🙂
      Heh, you would HAVE to be angel to eat even one cold kootie…ewwww!

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Anne: When I read submissions like this, I forget about pain. Now if I can only find a way to do CCC full time. 😉

      • Anne Wayman says:

        A book… or several… but you know that.

        • Shane Arthur says:

          @Anne: I definitely want to put these awesome submissions into books. So much talent in this place, the submission deserve to find their way into real books with ISBN numbers and all. At that point, everyone included in the book can call themselves a published writer. Besides that, how cool would it be to hold an actual CCC book!!! I got Kenn Crawford’s Bayou Billy book in the mail and it was like being a kid excited to open Christmas gifts.

    • jaced says:

      The code that tunnels through the sinuses. I love the fact that you made ‘tunnels’ a verb.
      Feel better, Anne!

    • Cathy Miller says:

      @Anne-even a nasty cold will not keep down the Queen of the short verse. Feel better!

  14. Jenny Lesnansky says:

    Under the guise of normalcy, angels carry us when they can. They keep their wings incognitio, and try desperately to meet their quota of lives changed. Amongst themselves, they speak in code and travel stealthily through tunnels. They are as puzzled by the occasional man’s mistreatment of his wife as they are by our war. They are never seen or felt. The closest thing we as humans can get to truly feeling an angels love is simply petting a beloved dog.

  15. Jenny Lesnansky says:

    @ Shane, I hope you’re feeling better! Poor thing!

  16. Tanja Cilia says:

    I remembered the broken latch in the back-door, and it was only a matter of seconds before judicious use of a hairpin under the bolt gave me access.  The place is just as I remember it in the tunnels of my mind. My wardrobe is still full of designer clothing and on my bedside table sits my life-size plush dog. Only one thing is missing; the code diary in which I poured my thoughts and suspicions about how he would make my murder look like an accident. Will he solve the puzzle  of how to decipher it? It’s tough being in this no-man’s land, between the Here and the Hereafter… having to serve my quota of  hours awaiting Redemption as one of the angels,  or Reincarnation as an incognito wife waiting for her husband to come home from the war in Afghanistan,  moving in next door.

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Tanja: Welcome to the CCC. I love your 1st submission. Love how this is about our troops. I think that makes three this challenge, and although one word was war, I didn’t think people would write about it, oddly.
      Hope you do more challenges. We have them every Monday and Thursday.
      Everyone welcome Tanja to the fun.

      • Cathy Miller says:

        @Tanja- Welcome to CCC!

        In case you are under the impression that this was a solo visit, let us assure you that you have only just begun. CCC is the sweet addiction even the angels don’t mind. There is no dress code for you or your words, just tunnels and tunnels of fun and adventure.

        So, come incognito or wearing your best verse, all we ask is that you come back again. There are no rules, no word quota or required style. It’s all about you and the words inside. So, welcome to our own special dog and pony show where war is unarmed and many a wife is left to puzzle where her author husband has roamed.


      • Tanja Cilia says:

        I saw the link on Jace’s comments on my wall on facebook – I wish you had some kind of mailing list or reminder, though, because I only see the first page of my wall each time I log on…
        Thanks for your fine words.
        I found the stoies fascinating.

    • Ember Bianco says:

      Welcome Tanja,
      I’m new here myself – I enjoyed this tale, a fine choice of wording with very rich undertones.

  17. Rebecca says:

    It’s been awhile since I’ve been here.  It’s good to be back 🙂
    The tunnels under Briar City were known to be haunted but this wouldn’t stop Stephanie Sanderson from conducting her research for her novel.  She decided to go incognito because she didn’t want anyone to recognize her.  The over sized trench coat she wore made her look twice her size.  The fedora hat was pushing it but she always loved the ‘detective’ style.  She couldn’t allow her father, Richard Sanderson, publishing tycoon to find out his daughter was traipsing around in the dark and filth of the Briar City Tunnels.  How would that look to readers?  More importantly, how would it look to the shareholders?  They had quotas to meet.  Being his daughter wasn’t easy.  They often went to war on the direction of Rebel Magazine.  She wanted to take in a more humanitarian direction.  Richard was more interested in dollar signs than showcasing the ‘do-gooders’ of the world.  Stephanie wasn’t winning the war but she could win the battle.

    As she walked along the riverbanks, she passed a man walking his dog.  “Woof!  Rocco, behave yourself.  I’m sorry about that miss.  I assure you he’s completely harmless, said the man.”  “No need to apologize,” said Stephanie.  “Excuse me for being forward, but isn’t it awfully late for a young woman like yourself to be walking all alone?  I only say this because I have daughter, and I wouldn’t want her out at this time by herself. My wife says I’m over protective,” said the man.  “Thank you for your consideration but I can take care of myself.  “Very well, I’ll be on my way.  Goodnight,” said the man.  “Your daughter’s lucky to have a father who cares for her” said Stephanie.  Goodnight,” said Stephanie. 

    She quickened her pace and reached the tunnels in record time.  The man shook her up.  Pull it together Stephanie.  She breathed deep and prayed to her angels to protect her while she was in the tunnels. Of course, she didn’t think to do this before she left the house.  She pulled out the paper that had the code written on it.  The city put bars on the tunnels to keep people out.  Luckily, she had friends in high places.  She punched in the code 10, 19, 9, 28, 37 and the door opened.  “Bingo,” said Stephanie.  The tunnels were like a big puzzle.  It was going to be a long night.

  18. Curious Ramblings of an Old Man Explaining the Underground Passages of Tacoma, Washington, USA

    Tianjin, China
    13 October 1926

    As told to Christopher Middleton, Foreign Office
    by Zhang Po Sin

    “I spent fifteen years in Tacoma and can solve the tunnel puzzle.  My wife and I worked on those tunnels.  We used them.  We scurried like dogs and slithered on our bellies like snakes in the criss-cross of pathways under the town.

    We didn’t use them to kidnap white men so that Chinese ships could meet their quota of deck hands.  We didn’t move opium from the docks to our shops in them.  Those are fables.

    Some Chinese were workers.  They came to build railroads.  We weren’t coolies.  A handful of us–those who knew the tunnels–came incognito.  We laid track and drove spikes like them, but we did more.  We upheld the code

    There was a war underground.  There is still a war underground!  It was beneath Tacoma.  Now it roars under Venice.  It was here in Tianjin and there by the Amazon.  I’ve been under European meadows, Arctic ice shelves and African jungles.

    There is always a war.  There are devils.  There are angels who must travel below to kill them.”

  19. Ember Bianco says:

    Okay you guys this isn’t fair, I can’t seem to get any other work done because I’m too busy playing in this jungle of amusement, THIS IS TOO MUCH FUN! I don’t know which I enjoy doing more here, reading or writing, they’re both like finding buried treasure. Now I’ve come up with another submission, uh oh! I’m starting to fiend in my new found cyber playground.

  20. Ember Bianco says:

    New entry:  
    Traveling under the countenance of an unknown assailant, rambling through many tunnels and passages, dogged by thoughts of unthinkable acts; and yet he knows there are no angels nearby, for if there were angels surely they would be here by now or anytime… Where is my wife he wonders? Can you bring my dog? This is war! I need it – give- me- the –code! “No, wait, wait just a second,” “I’ve got something here.” “Why do you want to keep this incognito?  Where is the quota for this type of punishment?” Confined in misery cloaked by visions of grandeur that lie up ahead he knows that there are a number of ways to get out of this puzzle. “Look,” he says quietly as he nods with a wink and a smile, “Look over there, I can see…” “Mr. Stone.” Pause of silence, “Mr. Stone.”  “Please Mr. Stone, it’s time for your meds,” “It’s time to wake up,” whispers the charge nurse.

  21. jaced says:

    Great job, everyone! I’ve enjoyed watching what you’ve all done with the words. Keep ’em coming!

    – – – – –

    The Grim Reaper has gone incognito. Has he contacted you yet?

    Pete Durante is a war dog trainer stationed near the Los Angeles Harbor during World War II. After being recruited by an Allied cryptography unit to intercept and decipher Axis messages, Pete cracks a code that ends the war and saves millions of lives. This offends the Grim Reaper, who kills Pete’s pregnant wife in order to balance his quota of souls. But in the interest of sport, the Reaper poses as an intelligence recruiter and sends Pete into a purgatorial maze of dark tunnels beneath Los Angeles to solve a puzzle that could bring his wife and child back.

    Under Angels is a ghost story based on fact mixed with urban legend, pulling readers through a labyrinth of storytelling that includes WWII history, UFOs, dogs, cryptography and the Enigma machine, wordplay, puzzles, Nazi symbolism, witchcraft, suicide, love, tragedy, art, and a certain dark agent who holds an egotistical grudge against a group of people who interfered with his plans.

    The Under Angels novel and its adapted screenplay are both copyrighted and ready for market, and the writer is currently seeking representation. More information on both can be found here.

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Jaced: It was great having you pick the words. I love what you did with them and I hope to see you get representation. If you don’t you could talk to Aaron Pogue about going the self publishing route. Again, thanks buddy.

  22. Anne Maybus says:

    it is almost over.
    Angels of release have won the war, dragging me with their splintery claws from my quota of days.  Death feels like a puzzle, pulling me through twisting tunnels towards dulling mysteries.  Why was I ever afraid of the dark?   
    I’m aware of a wet nose pushing under the covers and the whimpering of my dog. My wife, emotionally incognito, is a code I was never able to crack. She watches in elegant and distant silence.  Stillness enters me and I quit the world to the sounds of a mournful howl and high heels leaving the room.

  23. I’ve been sniffing the tunnels backyard like a mad dog for clues to why I found my wife sprawling in her own blood a week ago. If only angels fly low, perhaps she would have sent one down with the right code to this vengeful puzzle–incognito, at least, so she doesn’t start a war in heaven.

    They murdered her. But there is no hiding place for them under the yellow sun. Vengeance is my quota, if peace must visit my mind again.

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Walter: Welcome to the CCC, Walter. I saw your tweets about the CCC and was wondering when you’d jump in. Super first submission. I could read more, and hopefully I will when you submit every Monday and Friday. Everyone welcome Walter to the fun. Adding your name and url to the CCC community links page now.

      • Cathy Miller says:

        @Walter-Welcome to CCC!

        No longer flying under CCC’s radar, your words take flight like angels on a mission, sharing the secret code of all we hold dear. The challenge tunnels through the barriers of life where the incognito become well-known.

        Who can put a quota on thoughts or dog the words we use to reveal them? At CCC we war with the struggle that each challenge may bring, but we revel in the release of imprisoned words. Like a supportive wife, the CCC community welcomes you home and applauds when you solve this week’s puzzle.


      • Thanks Shane. 🙂 These challenges really stirs the mind.

    • Welcome to CCC, Walter! This is a fine addition to the “113”.
      I especially like the phrase so she doesn’t start a war in heaven.
      See you tomorrow! 🙂

  24. Shane Arthur says:

    programming note: Writers Digest is choosing tomorrow’s words. Bring your A Game folks. 😉

  25. Shane Arthur says:

    programming note (a little favor actually)
    Hey guys. We’re trying to crush it on google for the term “writing prompts” I know several of you have done posts about our site. Would it be possible for you guys to make the linking text read “writing prompts”  If so, thanks a million. We’re trying to build up our link juice. 😉

  26. Ember Bianco says:

    Good Morning Shane, 

     I don’t know which is worse, tooth or back pain. I suppose it doesn’t really matter any pain is horrible, so I said a prayer for you in church yesterday morning and I hope it’ll help. On another note, I already have 2 entries ready for CCC # 114 ( I went to the twitter link ) when do you start accepting submissions?

  27. Shane Hudson says:

    Oh how I hate writing code when I am under the weather! Like a tunnel full of warfare, watching my friend’s wife trying to complete a tetris puzzle or even just when I try to walk a dog. I bet those incognito angels above watch with laughter as I strive to write a single line, let alone fill the quota.

  28. angels incognito
    the size of a mosquito
    make tunnels through the code
    their job is to puzzle
    out the wardog’s muzzle
    to relieve his heavy load

    “Are you writing on CCC again,” asked my wife, “instead of sleeping?”

    “Yes,” I said, blearily, “I’m way under quota.”

  29. Kelly says:


    They left the little house standing there, right at the asphalt’s edge, when they built the freeway through town. They say old Mrs. Larssen never even considered moving.

    We’d speed by, in our minivans and our SUVs, and those of us who were old enough to remember when Mrs. Larssen’s place was at the edge of the town square, we’d look over once in a while and see her dog, ever-puzzled by the whizzing vehicles, sitting up on his yellow-lab haunches on the front porch where Mrs. Larssen used to greet us as we walked to school.

    “Nice day,” she’d say, no matter the weather. “Think I’ll bake a little something today.”

    Those were the days when we raced to get out of class, because if you were lucky enough to walk past Mrs. Larssen’s on your way home, you did not want to be unlucky enough to get there after the pepparkakor were gone. I can still taste those melt-in-your-mouth cookies now. She had a cow and a few chickens in a tiny farmyard out back, and we’d have fresh, warm milk with our cookies till we thought we might have trouble fitting back through the front door. Angels helped her bake the pepparkakor, she said, and I believed her. We were always full of grace when we left Mrs. Larssen’s house.

    If there was a Mr. Larssen, I never knew of anyone who’d seen him. It was hard to imagine her as someone’s wife, even though she was everybody’s grandmother. She was just too strong and independent to live under anyone else’s code. People said she’d been a real hero during the war, keeping the town running rubber drives and metal collections and anything else they asked of her. Maybe Mr. Larssen was Over There. Maybe that was why she worked so tirelessly… though I always guessed it was because of her love of our sleepy town, not her love of country or victory.

    Well, when the freeway came through town, she still had her quota of champions of her cause on the town council—some remembered her stalwart heroism, some remembered her pepparkakor—and they never did send the letter they sent to every other business and homeowner on the square, telling them it was time to sell their land to the state for pennies, in the name of progress. No, they never even considered asking her, and though she watched friends and neighbors moving off with sadness, she never even considered offering to move.

    In the name of progress, we race out of our sleepy town, bereft of its once-bustling town square; race to the tunnels of the Big City and the strange comfort of trampling incognito over wide cement sidewalks for our pay. But some of us look over at the asphalt’s edge as we hit the gas, Mrs. Larssen’s yellow lab reminding us that warm hearts still beat in that little house… and once in a while, we wish we could stop in for cookies.

  30. Kelly, this is so beautifully written, I was stunned when you said this was fiction. You made it real. Mrs. Larssen is looking around, right now, wondering, “What the hell? where did I come from?”
    This was awesome.

  31. Ember Bianco says:

    That was an awesome vivid picture, I have to agree with Mitch – a really sweet story and you nailed down the scenery perfectly. Fake or not you sure did Mrs Larssen justice. This reminded me exactly of the type of sweet old ladies that scattered my neighborhood growing up.   

    • Kelly says:

      Thanks Mitch, Ember—
      Yep, ‘fraid I’ve never lived anywhere like that, nor had the good fortune to know a Mrs. Larssen, but I guess I was reaching for something that would hit me… then I just hope it hits other people about the same way as it hits me. (Or something like that.)
      There are at least a few fictional people in the Compilation of my CCC pieces who still haunt me. I think Mrs. Larssen will join Miss Rosie’s husband and Jannie MacAllan and Bobby Slim now, rattling around in my head, even months after I wrote about them. That’s what I love about this place!!!

  32. Avenged in Blood Chronicles
     Part 55
    I woke up with a throbbing headache and I was seeing spots. The hole I had fallen in was dark but there was enough light from above that I guessed the pit to be 10 feet or so deep. I hurt all over but I still had my pistols. I felt some new scrapes and decided that I had quite filled my quota of bloddletting for the day.
    This hole smelled like dog. I had to find a way out. If there had been dogs here there should be tunnels to get under the basement and an incognito door. They wouldn’t just throw their little angels of pit bulls and german shepherds down the hole would they? Not even Mueller was bad with animals. He beat his ex-wife but he would never hurt a dog. His ”code” wouldn’t let him.
    I had to puzzle a way out of here before this private war I had perpetrated ended with me dead in a dogs hole. Another deep breath. Time to think.

  33. War is hell, thought Dante, once he had had a chance to reflect upon the cost of anger and a quick temper. It is against the angelscode to wage war, or to meddle in the querrulous affairs of men, and so they drift among us, at times, incognito, speaking in code and creating puzzles to baffle, frustrate, amuse, and enlighten us. This is how Dante knew that his wife was an angel, a gift from God, for she did all these things – but never argued or fought with him. She was beauty and patience, even when he had exhausted his quota of petty annoyances for the day – he was a dog, but she treated him as a faithful companion, even when he behaved like a mangy cur, fit to be kicked into the dark tunnels under the dingy city. He stood on the doorstep bearing offerings to his radiant goddess: roses, chocolates, and the renewal of his promise to be the man she deserved, if only she would forgive him his human shortcomings.

  34. Laurie says:

    It was Jeff’s turn they were playing scrabble again it and the angel puzzle had been their entertainment for a long time now. How long had they been living incognito in these tunnels down below? The war started around three years ago. It was hard to know for certain how long living in those dark tunnels. The code had been given to protect the officials families and take them down under even if they fought tooth and nail not to be in those claustrophobic tunnels under that barren desert. He had been below with the General’s wife and dog for six months before they started getting intimate. Damn, why couldn’t they have a puzzle of something other than angels to do over and over again. Even after three years his conscience got to him for sleeping with the general’s wife. But it was so lonely here below. Q-U-O-T-A, quota on a triple word, too bad he didn’t have the z as well….

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Laurie: Well done. I love stories about the aftermath. Alas Babylon is one of my favorites. I could read this stuff all day.

  35. Laurie says:

    I love them too!  I forgot about Alas Babylon, haven’t read that in couple decades!  Should put that on my list!  🙂

  36. Aaron Pogue says:

    The First Myth (part 3)
    “Well,” the flame said again after moment, deeply impatient. “Could you please hurry?”
    Addan frowned at that. His bloodied right hand still gripped the thorned root, and his left was questing for some purchase to pull himself back up. But now he stopped, puzzled by the tone of the voice in his head.
    A thousand paces stretched under him, to the rocks and the sea below, but even though he was only heartbeats removed from absolute, desperate terror…now he was calm. He tightened the grip in his right hand, barely wincing at the stabbing pain, and let his left arm drop to his side, so he could look down.
    It was quite a sight. He took a slow, easy breath — in and out through his nose — and then his lips cracked in a smile. Angels in heaven would envy him this view. Carefully, slowly, he placed his left hand on the cliff face near his waist, and pushed away, turning himself.
    He had to bite his lip against the new pain in his other hand, but it gave him a wider view out over the sea. He could see forever.
    “Well?” The fire said again. “Have you truly come all this way just to throw your life away?”
    Addan frowned again. “Yes,” he said, a dull ache growing in the muscles of his arm.
    “How abominably stupid,” the flame said. “Why ever would you do that?”
    “To be known,” Addan said, and his eyes shone as they drifted back down to the sea. “To be legend. I would fly.”
    “You would fall,” the flame said. “Incognito. Unknown. No more remembered than the last dog beyond the shelter’s quota.”
    Addan felt a flash of irritation at the flame’s strange banter. Half of its words were nonsense, some strange code, and the others were altogether too condescending. He growled, low in his throat, and then spent a moment finding toeholds. Then he pushed hard with his feet, and heaved with his arm, and lunged back up onto the ledge. For a moment he lay panting, and then he pushed himself up into a sitting position, turned in place, and fixed his eyes on the flame.
    “I would not be forgotten,” he said fiercely. “I am the only son of the High Elder of all the Keys — his wife, my mother, the First Teacher among our people. I have braved the sea’s fiercest storms, I’ve stalked the jungle cats and explored the farthest tunnels of the Darkbound Caves. I have made my name in every village of my people–”
    “And yet you have come here to die. Alone.”
    “I have come here to make a legend of myself,” Addan said. “I want to make a story.”
    The flame flared again, but not so large as before. Now it was a gentle pulse, out and back in, as though it were breathing. As though it were thinking. After a moment, its voice sighed in his mind. “I can give you a story.”
    Addan laughed, low and bitter. “I know all the stories,” he said.
    “All of them?” The flame sounded surprised. And then, after a moment, it chuckled. “How many?”
    “There are six,” Addan said, raising his stricken hand to count them off on his fingers. “The story of the mother, and the story of the father.” He frowned, though he probably didn’t know it. He even gave a little shake of his head before he went on. “The story of the fish, and of the hunt.” He nodded at that, and began putting fingers back down. “And of darkness, and of….” His lips curled up in a funny smile, as though he were genuinely amused, and his eyes fixed once more on the flame. “And the story of fire.”
    “I doubt you have a story about me,” the flame answered.
    “Not you,” Addan said, suddenly hesitant. “Not exactly. But you are a kind of madness, and a kind of exaggeration. You are just a variation on the story of the darkness and the story of the fish.”
    “I don’t know that I’ve ever been so insulted,” the flame said, but it sounded amused. Amused and…calculating. After a moment, it said, “I am not your madness, son of man.”
    “No?” Addan said, without really listening.
    “No,” the flame answered. “I am a living soul, as you are, from a land far away. From a land with far more stories than you could ever imagine.”
    Addan shook his head. “I have heard many stories, but they are all variations on these six. And I am tired of them.”
    “There is a seventh, then,” the flame said. “And within the seventh are enough variations to satisfy you for a lifetime. I promise it.”
    Addan narrowed his eyes, but there was a glimmer of hope in them. In spite of himself, he wanted to believe. “What?” he asked roughly, demanding. “What is the seventh story?”
    War,” the flame said. “And it is my story to tell.”

  37. Oh, snap! I love that! Aaron, you are awesome!
    @Shane, you’re funny, dude!

    • Aaron Pogue says:

      Mitch, you’re way too good for my self-esteem. I’ve just been floating on a cloud the last two days, getting emails of your feedback.
      I’m hoping to get a bunch more written on this story in the next week. Keep an eye out.

      • You deserve kudos all around, Aaron. I’ll be keeping a close look through the CCC notifications 🙂
        Also, thanks for introducing me to the Kindle … I have the Kindle for PC and now I can see myself going for the physical device.

        • Aaron Pogue says:

          Probably the best tech device I’ve ever bought (and I’ve bought a lot of tech devices). I absolutely love reading with the Kindle software (whether it’s on my computer, on the Kindle, or on my phone) and knowing it’ll keep my place for me.

  38. […] The community did a great job with these. Check out the jams. […]

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