Writing Prompts – Creative Copy Challenge #132

Our own Chris Fries chose today’s words. Show him you still know how to crush writer’s block.

Writing prompts cure writer’s block. Take the 10 random words below and, in the comments, crush writer’s block by creating a cohesive, creative short story tying 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, do those too.)

  1. Nightfall
  2. Dune
  3. Stand
  4. Godfather
  5. Ring
  6. World
  7. Stranger
  8. Land
  9. Lord
  10. Foundation

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.)

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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

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108 Comments on “Writing Prompts – Creative Copy Challenge #132”

  1. Shane Arthur says:

    “Billy, our landlord done stopped by twice today.”

    “Which one, Bobby?”

    “You know, the one dat, on a bad day, look like that floatin’ fat man on dat movie Dune with the pustules on his face who had man-love for that Sting fella. The one dat, on a good day, look like dat fella on the Godfather movie, but without da guns and cool smirk.”

    “Oh, dat one. What he say, Bobby?”

    “He just standed there shoutin’ how we’s been strangers on our rent payments and how the world be a better place without us in it.”

    “What’d you tell him?”

    “I done told him dat trust is the foundation of any relationship and that we’d have the payment by nightfall. Told him we’d give him a ring before we stopped by.”

    “Bobby, we ain’t got no phone?”

    “Don’t worry. I went out and bought one with our rent money.”

    • Okay, that was stupid funny! You are hilarious, Shane!
       
      Cheers,
       
      Mitch
       

    • Chris Fries says:

      Too Funny, Shane!
       
      Great job with the words, and sorry for my delay in responding.  I was pretty much out of commission yesterday and never even turned my PC on — I didn’t know my words were up yesterday, LOL!
       
      Billy shoulda called me with his new phone ta let me know!
       

    • Hilarious, I was actually listening to the Dune soundtrack by Toto on my way to Charlotte yesterday too.  “The Duke will die before these eyes and he’ll know, he’ll know, that it is I, Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, who encompasses his doom!”

  2. Matt J. Marlieu says:

    Nightfall had arrived, and the young lord‘s godfather looked out the window. He could barely stand it. The world was a changing place, not fit for his adopted son.
    At first he and the young lord had been like strangers after the boy’s parents died, but then they came to know one another much better. The death of the boy’s parents established the foundation of their relationship, for the boy’s father, the prince, was the godfather’s brother. With the death of the prince, he had heard, would come the end of the kingdom. This bothered the godfather.
    But somehow he just knew that they would make it work. He continued to look out the window onto his family’s land. His job now was to teach the boy all that he needed to know to rule the throne from the Sand Dunes of Kalamar to the Beaches of Vascadi. It wouldn’t be an easy task. The godfather had never himself gone through the training. How would he ever be able to teach so much to someone else in such little time?
    But he didn’t want to think about this now. No, he wanted to sleep tonight, so he let his thoughts disappear as he admired the luminescent ring around the moon. It radiated clearly this cold, crisp night. He let out some vapor with his breath, closed the window, and went to bed. The morning would be the start of a long process.

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Matt: Welcome to the CCC. That was a fantastic 1st submission. Great flow. Love your style. Please do stop by each Monday and Thursday for more. Everyone welcome Matt to the addiction. I’m adding you to the CCC Community Links page. Do you have a url?

      • Cathy Miller says:

        @Matt J. Marlieu-Welcome to CCC!

        Before nightfall of your first submission, you will know you landed in a special place. The words form your dune of destiny as you take your stand along the creative shores of CCC.

        The community is the protective godfather, welcoming all who visit. The ring of words from around the world shows there are no strangers here to the land of all that is right. No one will lord over how it should be or what it might have been. Here the challenge is merely the foundation of dreams.

        Welcome!
         

        • Shane Arthur says:

          @Cathy: Every nightfall I wonder how you will scale the dune of CCC welcome messages. Yet, there you are standing tall after each one. You’re like the godfather of creativity’s ring finger (kiss, kiss), showing the world no strangers exist in our club. You’re the best in Welcome Land; only The Lord knows how you do it. You’re one of the four legs to our foundation. Thank you.

        • Kifayat says:

          @Cathy, you really are gifted with words – I love this welcome!

        • Chris Fries says:

          Cathy you are the Goddess of Welcome!!!  You always knock these out of the park!!!
           
          Fabulous!

          • Cathy Miller says:

            @Chris-you are soooo good for my ego-thanks! I’m hoping I can get here to submit one of my own and most of all to catch up on all the fabulous reading. Work, work, get out of my way, so I can play at CCC! 🙂

    • Anne Wayman says:

      Yes, please come back and contribute often… well done, Matt.

    • Welcome to the CCC, Matt! I enjoyed your first submission. Hopefully, there will be more of the young lord?
       
      Cheers,
       
      Mitch
       

    • Chris Fries says:

      Fabulous piece, Matt!!!  I love what you did with the words — that is an awesome intro!!!
       
      I’m very eager to see how the young lord and his godfather fare!!!  Great job.
       
      And welcome to the CCC!
       

  3. Tanja Cilia says:

    A stranger in a strange land – or, to put it more accurately, Lord of this New World. There was one proviso.  He had to make it past the Foundation Dune before nightfall, if he really wanted the right to wear his Godfather’s ring.  Nothing would stand in his way.

  4. Anne Wayman says:

    (My secret delusions of grandeur follow.)
    Thank the Goddess for nightfall! Finally I could crawl over the top of the dune and down to stand with my Godfather. The ring he’d held for so long would allow me to rule the world, no longer a stranger in this strange land, but Lord of the Foundation that controlled everything!

  5. Anne Wayman says:

    Particularly when it’s me 😉

  6. Harvey and Peter went over the hidden codes with Roger one last time. These late evening hijinks were the best part of the otherwise boring job of securing the World Bank software routines. The coders stationed at Third Tiger Ring Bank of Lending in Mongolia secretly wished that they had the skills to pull off a Molten Hail exploit that had nearly crippled the economies of most emerging nations. Of course, the World Bank was unaffected, as it used DOS, Dune Operating System from Atreides Technologies. That didn’t matter, though, because its clients were effectively set back one hundred years.

    By nightfall of 11 November, 2011, the electronic networks that formed the foundation of the financial structures of countries like Mongolia had crumbled under the weight of billions of failed transactions. A system date glitch had caused many of the less secure finance centers, including Third Tiger, to reject all loan payments as post-dated checks. Any fool could have seen that a 1901 date was an error and allow the checks to be processed manually. However, the workers at Third Tiger refused to show any initiative, other than to call tech support.

    The coders had a good laugh over the exploit before resetting all the computer clocks. They were tasked with locking the barn after the horse was long gone. The tedium of the job was alleviated when Harvey mischievously suggested that they hide little snippets of code that would only activate if someone knew what sequence of keys to press on their computers. Roger readily agreed. Peter only came around after Harvey promised him free passes to the local sex club.

    Now, they had finished installing their little juvenile pranks and were having a blast activating them when the door to the small office burst open and three policemen charged in holding a camera on a tripod. “Freeze, assholes! Stand up!”

    Peter fell out of his chair. Harvey froze. Only Roger spoke, in a perfect imitation of Marlon Brando from the Godfather: “Make up your mind, dude. Are we going to sit or are you going to kill us?” He sneered at the officer who had shouted the conflicting instructions.

    In two steps, the officer was face-to-face with Roger. With a vicious swipe, he landed a roundhouse kick to Roger’s head, sending him sprawling. Leaning close, the officer spat, “I watch movies, too. I make joke too. I’ll ask the questions here. Now tell me, what do you want with draggin’ balls on the floor?”

    Roger groaned once and passed out. He and the other two coders were hauled away in an unmarked car.

    ***

    Harvey was spooked. Alone in a small, dank dungeon-like cell, he tried to reassure himself that, as an employee of the World Bank, he had nothing to fear from these local security thugs. They probably just wanted access to their funds. He wondered where Peter and Roger had been taken. Just as he completed this final thought, a shotgun blast exploded alarmingly nearby. Harvey freaked out and backed into a corner of the cell. He sensed that things were about to get very scary.

    ***

    Peter was petrified. Alone in a small, dank dungeon-like cell, he whimpered for his mother. As he sat rocking back and forth on an iron cot, he convinced himself that they were all going to lose their jobs for hacking the computer code. Lord knows he should never have gone along with those clowns! He wondered what had happened to them, anyway. Suddenly a shotgun blast assaulted his ears, sending him scampering under the cot. He had no idea what to expect, but he was very afraid.

    ***

    Roger woke up in a small, dank dungeon-like cell. He was not alone. The officer who had knocked him senseless was standing over him as if daring him to crack wise again. Gingerly, Roger probed his jaw and the back of his head, wincing when he touched a sore spot. He wondered where they had stashed Peter and Harvey. A very loud shotgun blast made his aching head throb dangerously.

    The officer started, shifting his eyes toward the front of the cell. “Oh my, one of your treasonous comrades has just been executed. If you wish to be spared their torture, you will explain this computer code immediately. Then we will mercifully execute you.” Now, he was the one sneering.

    Roger tried to show non-existent bravery. “It’s bounds-checking code.” Despite his predicament, he laughed at his own joke. “Ha-ha! Get it? If your check bounces, our code will catch it!”

    “You lie! You were only supposed to reset the clocks!”

    Roger became indignant. “What do you know, anyway? Did you bother to call our supervisor? Hazel Blackberry assigned us to harden the systems at Third Tiger.”

    The cop leaned in close. “You are a stranger in Ulan Bator, Mr. Valiant. We have been tracking your every move since you arrived last month.  We know your friend, Harvey Dowd, has been meeting operatives at the Golden Triangle Club. We know that your friend, Peter Sassafras makes phone calls back to the United States every night. And we suspect that you are passing information via movie rentals, since you seem to visit the kiosk every three days. What we don’t know, Mr. Valiant, is why your so-called bounds-checking code prints the message When You Can’t Get It All Together, Improvise on the computer screen when you type ‘Antoine’? What we don’t know, Mr. Valiant, is why the text on the screen disappears when you type ‘Pooka‘? What we don’t know, Mr. Valiant, is how many other nefarious messages have you encoded?”

    During this diatribe, Roger slowly realized that this cop had no clue. Quickly regaining his cocky bravado, he merely said, “Haven’t you slugs ever heard of an Easter Egg hunt?”

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Mitchell: What a ride! I think that was my fav of this series. Such a great story, I forgot about the challenge words. Love when that happens.

    • Chris Fries says:

      AWESOME, Mitch!!!!
       
      Great story — excellent drama and tension.  Very smooth insertion of the prompt words, also!  You kicked ass, my man!
       
       

      • Thanks, Chris! I really enjoyed the words you selected. I read most of them 😉
        I know you like surprises, so there are a bunch of them in this story for you!
         
        Cheers,
         
        Mitch
         

  7. Lydia says:

    “At nightfall,” Godfather instructed Dune, “stand on the threshold between us and this new land and tell me what you see. We must know why new cities have been rattling the foundation of our world as they shudder into existence each night.”
     
    Dune nodded and left. Three days and nights passed. By the second night the now-familiar ring of alarm bells when the bulge that would erupt into a new city was spotted grew silent.
     
    On the morning of the fourth day Dune returned. A council of elders gathered to hear her tale.
     
    “Is this a message from the Lord?” the eldest said.
     
    “No,” said Dune, “it was a stranger who downloaded us and tried to start a new game without reading the manual first.”

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Lydia: Welcome to the CCC. I loved this entry. I love this style where you find out what happens at the very end. One of my favorite styles to use. Hope to see you every Monday and Thursday for more challenges too. Everyone welcome Lydia to the addiction. I’ll add your name to the CCC Community Links page. Let me know if you have a website address and I’ll link your name to it.

      • Lydia says:

        Thank you, Shane. I’ll be back on Thursday! 🙂
         
        My website is http://www.on-the-other-hand.com/.

      • Kifayat says:

        @Lydia: Welcome and nice to have another addition to the community. Like Shane, I also like how we found out what happened at the end of the story.

      • Cathy Miller says:

        @Lydia-Welcome to CCC!

        From morning to nightfall, our words blow silently through our minds like sand forming a dune in a story waiting to be told. We stand by words that act as the godfather to our souls,encircled by the ring of truth. In this world, we know no stranger or foreign land. We are lord of all we write and all we write is the foundation of all we need.

        Welcome!

        • Shane Arthur says:

          @Neither nightfall nor shifting dune can stop your creativity. It stands on the shoulders of godfather muses ringing creative truth to all in the world who would listen. No stranger land would this place be if not for your welcomes. The Lord is our savior, but you and the CCC are our welcoming foundation.

    • Chris Fries says:

      Amazing piece, Lydia!!!  I love it!  And the quirky twist at the end was awesome!
       
      Welcome to the CCC!  I hope to read much more of your great work!!!
       

    • Welcome to the CCC, Lydia, and what an entrance you’ve made! I absolutely love this setting and the way you revealed the alternate universe.
       
      shudder into existence each night
       
      That is such a cool way to bring something to life in a way that foreshadows its digital origins.
      I can’t wait to see what you do next!
       
      Cheers,
       
      Mitch
       

  8. Kifayat says:

    First of all, I hold my hands up – I still don’t know how to use the word “dune”, so forgive me if it doesn’t make sense! lol
     
    I stand in awe of what the Lord has done for me.

    From the foundations of the earth He has made me stand tall in spite of my many adversities.

    As Joseph a stranger in a foreign land and the dune that ensued when Moses & the children of Israel sought to fight for their rights from the godfather of the land;

    I know I’m not alone in the nightfall.

    You Lord are in the ring of hope that I hold unto – the world may forsake me, but not you Lord…

  9. Kifayat says:

    @Shane – thanks!

  10. meek willed says:

    after drama the day seem to fly by i mean we had history were we Learnt about a Lord Wolfson and the charitable foundation set up in 1955 for the advancement of health, education, the arts and humanities and lunch then math’s where the hardest question was  working out the area of some stranger‘s farm.
    My day finish off with tutorial were my toter let the class watch The Godfather so he could finish of some paper work after that had been bugging him after hearing  the bell ring the hole class blustered out as fast as they could after all it was Friday and ever one wanted to enjoy their weekend.
    I got to iron ates at the front of the college I could see Sue and Chloe standing and talking while James gust leaned against the fence listening to something on his mp3 as I approached Chloe whispered something in James ear as she pick up her dune bag  and walk off  as Sue said “hi” and i responded  with the normal “hay how was your day” she had said it had been fine and that she wanted to go to are old hangout  so we went chatting about what funny things had happened in class today until we got to the busy road that cut the town off from the woods were the hideout lays on uneven land.
    We crossed the road holding hands and move pass a coupe of trees to fined are hideout  witch was a mid size tree house that never got off the ground and had two mattress on the floor for comfort.
    I followed her in and closed the door behind me an asked ” why did you want to come here then” as I sat down she curled up next to me putting her head against my chest and said “coz I haven’t been able to stop thinking of when we used to spend time playing in here* my heart started racing as the last memory I had in this place was of trying to avoid answering Sue after  she had asked me out for the first time.
    I look at her knowing now I should of said yes back then an I stuttered as i ask “w-will you be my girlfriend” I looked at her sparkling eyes like spheres she then closed her eyes  leaned in and kissed me I closed my eyes and kissed back it felt like world had stopped revolving as  her soft silky lips caressed mine.
    Before i knew it it was nightfall.
     

  11. margaret says:

    The Godfather drove to the desert at nightfall and made it a point to stand on the highest dune, where he was able to see the expanse of lights from the land below. He remembered the earliest
    foundation of that sprawling playground of the hedonistic masses.

    He felt as though he alone was Lord and King of this world and anybody who might disagree was to
    suffer a stranger fate than they ever expected.

    After all, what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas!

  12. Lydia says:

    Thank you for the warm welcome, @ cathy miller and @kifayat.

  13. Kelly says:

    TOO LATE I KNOCKED
     
    Too late! I knocked.
     
    I thought the better of it afterwards, but afterwards is always too late.
     
    You answered the door in jeans and not-much-else, looking like you had something in you that you hadn’t quite slept off, and I was interrupting.
     
    “They delivered the wrong mail to me,” I said. “Your mail, I mean. They delivered it to me. Here.” I thrust a couple of letters in your hand and practically ran away.
     
    I used to be comfortable here. I’d rented this beach house for years and saw the same people, every year, until you showed up this June. I’ll admit it, you were too handsome for me. It made me nervous, now, to take a run down to the beach without a coverup. I discovered a sudden need for a newer swimsuit and cuter flip-flops. I even checked my makeup in the mirror before I went down the street to get milk.
     
    Who wears makeup at the beach? Silly girls who grow up to be shy women, I suppose, if they find themselves next door to strangers whose presence makes them melt.
     
    After that day you twisted yourself into a pretzel to get to know me. Me! At first I was sure you had the wrong chick. I pinched myself more than once to be sure I wasn’t dreaming you. I know I’m great in a lot of ways, but I don’t normally get attention from sandy-haired beach bums with secret lives they’re trying to escape. Your long, lean form striding over the dunes toward me as I read a book or took a dip began to seem right after just a few days. This was the summer I’d always wished for when I sent in my ever-skyrocketing rent for the beach house, getting to know you… as much as you wanted to be known… hanging out, getting friendly, eating pizza, just relaxing with—I’ll say it—some wonderful eye candy.
     
    Too late… I knocked.
     
    If I hadn’t had that glass of wine after you left that night in early July, maybe I’d never have crossed the driveway to your door at midnight. I knew it was way too late but now days had stretched into weeks… we seemed to have such a good foundation, here in our fantasy-land, away from real life… guess I was wondering if we could make this summer friendship into a little fling.
     
    I’m not usually like that. But summers slip by fast, and my last glass of wine was gone. I think it dared me to knock on your door.
     
    I watched you stand in the doorway, sad-eyed lord of your (sand)castle. It seemed to take forever for you to decide what to do with me. Finally, you invited me in, and we very, very gently… gingerly?… got just a bit more friendly. It was the first time since handing you the mail that I felt like I should run away again. It wasn’t just that you were taking things at a gentleman’s pace. There was something in you that I wasn’t supposed to know.
     
    I pushed the idea away and enjoyed our time for what it was. I didn’t expect a ring. I didn’t expect to invade your world and I probably didn’t want you to invade mine. If you were reluctant, then I’d back off. Every day was still more beautiful for spending part of it with you, dancing under the improbably huge, wrought-iron chandelier in your kitchen, watching old movies on my sofa, listening to you muse on politics or opera or your favorite scene from The Godfather.
     
    Every day, we watched the stars come out to dance above our heads at nightfall.
     
    Every day I lay with my head on your chest and breathed happy, ignorant sighs. I was more content than I’d ever been. Of course, you must be, too.
     
    At the end of the month, you had to go back to the city for a few days. You had some business to take care of. We both knew that days and forevers of apart-ness would come. I hope I wasn’t too calm about the goodbye. I was still trying to take this as a beautiful fling. You were still unknowable in so many ways—I was never sure if you agreed, or if you wished I wasn’t so casual. Or some third thing altogether. You’d be back Sunday, maybe; maybe I’d ask you if I was reading you right then.
     
    Sunday you did come back. We had a picnic on the beach, tried to decide if the stars had shifted in the eons since we’d seen each other. You were quiet as we watched them dance, still except for the tears I discreetly tried not to notice. You’d tell me when it was time. Maybe.
     
    Monday I ate breakfast alone. Figured you were sleeping off the drive.
     
    Went to the beach alone, too. Brought a book and actually got to read it. You rarely left me alone long enough to get through a whole chapter. I do so hate to pry. I’d leave you alone a while longer. Felt like a nag even thinking of going up to your door, but at dinnertime… well, if you’d gone back to the city without telling me I’d better find out now and start steeling my heart. I put the book down on my kitchen counter. Got a coverup for my swimsuit. Put on my cute new flip-flops. Falling apart already, the dang things. Walked across the driveway to your front door.
     
    Too late, I knocked.
     
    Afterwards is always too late.
     
    It was hard to explain to the EMTs why I was in your kitchen that evening, staring at your body swinging gently in the summer breeze coming through the patio doors. “I thought we might order a pizza” sounded so lame as they cut you down from the chandelier. I think they wanted me to leave the room, but I wanted to make sure they treated you well. You were still just as unknowable, but I knew that you deserved to be held… more gently than they would.
     
    More gently, I suppose,  than I knew how.

  14. Tiffany Hudson says:

    I sat in my seat next to Sam. Sank down into it and looked at him out of the corner of my eye. He was like a total stranger. He looked pale and fragile. More then I had ever seen him look like in all the world. He reached out to write something down and I saw deep cuts along his wrist.
    For a minute I felt like I was standing on a dune and the foundation suddenly cracked. I lost it.
    I grabbed his arm and looked up at him. He looked down surprised and tried to shake me off. For once he couldn’t. He had lost weight and muscle since I had last saw him a week ago.
    I knew I had atracted the attiention of the whole class.
    Mr simons looked at us in surprise.
    “Sam, Coral. Lord, I have never seen you two fight. Both of you leave my classroom now.” His deep voice basicly growled. We obayed, grabbed our stuff and left. I looked at the small man with his stained white shirt stretched over his belly and his black trousers a bit to long for him. He had a deep voice and always looked over his little glasses. Many woundered why he even had them.
    “What is going on with you?” I demanded the second we got out the class.
    “I lost you.” He admited straight away. Then looked away ashamed.
    “Sa..” He didn’t let me finish. He waved a hand for me to follow, walked down the hall and opened his locker. He took out a little case and throw it at me weakly.
    “I was going to take you out and ask you at nightfall in parkland. My godfather gave it to me.” He explained as I opened the case to find nested inside a large 9 carat yellow gold set with diamonds and blue sapphire engagement ring.
    My breath faltered.
    “Damn, damn, damn.” I muttered to my self. I didn’t think he heard.
    “Take it all back. Take me back.” I nodded. “Pretend we never broke up.” He whispered.
    I grinned and nodded again. I passed him the ring back and he dropped to one knee.

    I couldn’t quite stop the smile that spread across my face.
    “Coral, my love, my life. I don’t ever want to let you go again. Will you marry me?” He asked just as the bell went and student flooded out the classrooms. They all stopped and watched.
    I grinned and dropped to my knees. Kissing him like I never would again.
    I heard cheering and looked up in time to see Marla, Rachel and Alfie along with a couple others run over to us.
    Marla jumped on me her blonde hair covering my eyes and her squills in my ear.
    Alfie grabbed me. He hugged me tightly.
    “Your gonna be my sister.” He grinned like a kid on christmas.
    I heard high heel clip clops and raised my head to see the cheerleaders walk over. My sister in front.
    “Congrats Coral. I’m happy for you.” She hugged me and walked over to sam who was still on his knees but now hugging Rachel and Marla. “You hurt my sister and I will fry you.” She smiled friendly.
    Sam nodded mutely. And smiled weakly at her.

  15. Chris Fries says:

    Fabulous, Tiff!  I really love how your writing is developing!  The pacing and your descriptions, and the dialogue is wonderful.
     
    But while Chloe may have said ‘yes’, Sam still makes me nervous.  Heated temper and now willing to cut himself??? Not a promising sign for the future domestic tranquility of our young lovers, I fear…

    • Tiffany Hudson says:

      @Chris, Thanks. 😀
      Sam’s problems are all part of his charm and his pure passion for Coral.
      I have admit that Sam is my faverate character.

  16. Chris Fries says:

    Sorry all about being late getting here.  I’ve been home yesterday and today fighting a nasty sinus infection and never even turned on the PC until this afternoon.

    Thank you all for the WONDERFUL submissions!  I am always amazed by the great posts that come from the CCC prompts!

    And as for mine, I give you another entry in my series:
     

    “The Look of Murder – Part 6”

    It didn’t take long before the cops came; first the locals and then a car with a couple of schmoes from Detroit homicide who’d heard the call and decided to drop in and offer assistance.  More likely eager for an opportunity to case the house and grill some of the suspects.  Charles’s name never came up, but I could tell the detectives were more interested in him than in a report about some vague prowler.

    Margaret was composed and charming and was as smooth as silk, greeting each one of them with a dismissive, “I’m sure this is all nothing, but…”  I raised a few eyebrows by being there, but nobody gave me too much grief and I drifted into the background.  The cops all made a big point of patrolling the back yard, but didn’t see anything more than what I’d seen.  At least they didn’t trip over the furniture to land sprawled across the patio like I had.

    The local cops spent plenty of time interviewing the maid, asking her the same questions over and over to try and flesh out a description of the guy she’d seen, even asking her if she’d noticed anything before nightfall.  She hadn’t.  The Detroit detectives seemed more interested in the surroundings and mainly questioned Margaret about where she had been.

    Around 10:30, I started feeling useless and decided to slip away.  I put on my hat and coat and worked my way towards the entrance when the door burst open and two men came in; didn’t even bother to ring the bell.  The first one was tall and dressed to the hilt in an expensive suit.  He stomped in like he was lord of the manor.  The second one I figured for a lackey of the big guy, especially when he took the coat and hat of the first guy. 

    The big guy drew up short when he saw me.  It was obvious he hadn’t been expecting some stranger to meet him at the door. 

    “Are you with the police?” he said.

    “No, the name’s Nick Sharpe.  I’m a private investigator. I was—“

    “Where’s Margaret?  Is she alright?”  Without waiting for my answer, he turned and headed down the hallway, the other one scampering along right on his tail.

    Obviously the guy wasn’t big on conversation. 

    I had planned on leaving and probably still should have. These high-dollar muckity-mucks lived in a totally different world than what I was used to.  Margaret had asked me to stay until the cops had arrived and they’d been here for over an hour.  Since then I hadn’t done much more than stand around with my hands in my pockets, feeling awkward.  I really had no business here.  Yeah, OK, my filthy mind started playing tricks with me when I thought of Margaret, but her husband had just been killed, and even without that, I had as much chance with her as an ice-cube had sitting on a sand dune in the Sahara.  In truth, there was little good that could come of me hanging around. 

    So of course I pulled off my coat and hat and went back into the living room.  I was curious, that’s all.  I wanted to see who Mr. Important was.  Hell, he could have been Margaret’s godfather or the president of the Thurston’s charitable foundation for all I knew, but something about him had rubbed me the wrong way, and not just his lack of gab.

    He had Margaret’s hands in his when I came in, squeezing them as he leaned close.

    “Margaret, I am so horribly upset to hear about Charles,” he said.  “I am utterly shocked that anything like this would ever happen to our family.  How are you holding up, my Dear?”

    Margaret leaned away from his onslaught and her face brightened when she saw me.

    “Lawrence,” she said as she pulled her hands away from him. “Have you met Mr. Sharpe?”  She walked towards me.  “Mister Sharpe, this is Lawrence, Charles’s brother.”

    Lawrence gave me a brief nod and a slight sneer.  “Yes, we met in the foyer.”

    It hadn’t been much of a meeting, but at least it was more than the other guy; I guess the lackey didn’t merit an introduction.  He hovered alongside the wall, still holding Lawrence’s hat and coat. 

    “Yeah.  Pleased to meet’cha,” I lied.

    “Mister Sharpe is a private detective,” Margaret said. “He’s the one who found Charles.”

    This seemed to get Lawrence’s attention.  He stood and looked me over.  “That must have been dreadful, Mr. Sharpe.  But I do so appreciate the help you’ve been to my family.”  He walked towards me with his hand out, clearly intending to herd me towards the door.  “If we ever need any further investigative work, I’m sure we’ll give you a call.”

    Margaret interrupted his brush off.  “I asked him to stay, Lawrence.  And I’d like him to remain for a while, please.”

    Lawrence stopped, a slight scowl on his face, but he recovered nicely.  “Oh, of course, Margaret.  If there’s anything at all that we can do to help you during this dreadful time, I’m sure Mr. Sharpe and I will be eager to do.”

    Great.  Now suddenly the guy was my partner.
     

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Chris: You’re a natural storyteller my friend. Have you studied any writing or story structure prior?

      • Chris Fries says:

        Thanks, Shane!
         
        And no.  Other than one general intro to creative writing class way back in my first fizzled-out attempt at college.  When I went back it was pure geekdom electrical engineering.
         
        But I’ve always loved to read.  And I love a good story.
         

    • Bravo! This story is proceeding nicely! I love the attention to period detail. Nick Sharpe is about as hard-boiled as they come!
       
      This shorter piece was the prefect length for the scene. I hope it also means the story will last longer!
       
      Cheers,
       
      Mitch
       

      • Chris Fries says:

        Thank you very much Mitch!  Your support is greatly appreciated!
         
        I’m not sure exactly how long this story will last, but the way I find myself meandering through these scenes, it may take quite a while to finally get to where I want the story to go.
         
         

        • I know what you mean. Anubis IV and TWoSH have been knocking at my window. I told them to go away, since I’m busy on projects. That’s not so much a story, as a bed-time serial thriller for big kids 🙂 I used to do these adventure type stories for my kids when they were younger. “Meander” is the perfect word for how those nightly rituals unfolded, played out and died – usually when a more interesting idea for a tale came along – or when I simply ran out of gas.
          That’s what I admire about participants like you who will wind up with a nice “Series” link in the CCC member page 😉
           
          Cheers,
           
          Mitch
           
           

  17. Troy Worman says:

    Beyond the High Plains of Xale and the Western Crags of the Old Coast, the Indigo Sands were the last great barrier to the Serpent Sea and beyond it, Goth.  It was told that nightfall on the dunes was among the God Father’s most magnificent creations, said to rival even those images of the ancient wonders described in the great histories: Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, Asimov’s Foundation, and King’s Stand. Gazing upon the otherworldly landscape now hued in indigo and turquoise, cactus and tangerine; Shane felt like a stranger in his own Miminde.

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Troy: I’ve always loved your style. This submission is no different. It’s a joy to read these things. I always know you include some eggs in your stories for us to find. This time, I’m not certain on the Miminde thing. let me know. Excellent story.

    • Chris Fries says:

      Captivating, Troy!  Vivid scene-painting.   You even pulled in a few of the titles of some of my favorite novels that I’d lifted the words from.  ;^)
       
      But I gotta admit I’m with Shane — the “miminde” is passing over my head, but I’m intrigued…

    • Nice work, Troy! Nightfall must indeed be something else, to beat those guys!
      I guess we’re all waiting to see what the last word is on the last word.
       
      Cheers,
       
      Mitch
       
       

  18. A little late for this one, been traveling for work.

    In reading the words for today’s poem I thought of some decayed world, maybe an ancient civilization on a foreign moon of Saturn where crumbling ruins and a final monument are left standing.

    Left Standing
    Nightfall again over the sand dune
    godfather of this failing ring world
    forgotten lord of this stranger place
    last of the rulers still left to stand
    cursed crumbling jagged foundation
    forever surveying this decayed land

  19. […] by Writer’s Digest and Creative Copy Challenge‘s writing exercises. Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. […]


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