Writing Prompts – Creative Copy Challenge #137

Becca Campbell of Inspiration for Creation chose today’s words. Becca focuses on finding and keeping inspiration throughout the creative process. Show her your creative process.

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. Empathy
  2. Psychopath 
  3. Surreptitious – Obtained, done, or made by clandestine or stealthy means.
  4. Flutter
  5. Weakness
  6. Compute
  7. Jubilee – A season or an occasion of joyful celebration.
  8. Quark – Any of a group of six elementary particles having electric charges of a magnitude one-third or two-thirds that of the electron; A soft creamy acid-cured cheese
  9. Prison
  10. Cockeyed

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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144 Comments on “Writing Prompts – Creative Copy Challenge #137”

  1. Shane Arthur says:

    “Billy, since when you done shown empathy to psychopaths like dis one you defendin’ on television here? Ain’t empathy a sign of weakness?”

    “It started when I done got sent to prison for not payin’ for dat library book. I had a cockeyed, psychopath cellmate dat could get, surreptitious-like, anything I done needed. Sure he was sickening to look at, but my heart sure did-a flutter when he snuck me in some mountain oysters and a computer with Quark Express so I could update the prison newsletter Jailhouse Jubilee.

    “What book was it dat sent you to prison?”

    “I believe it was called Salad Tossin’ 101, but the pictures in it weren’t like no salad I ever done seent.”

  2. Wrote a story today for this one, somewhat inspired by Minority Report I admit.

    He can’t even compute the amount of days spent here behind these prison bars. Stern and harsh exterior appearance a mere façade hiding the weary weakness growing in his heart.
     
    “Prisoner number 43016” the woman voice echoed from the speaker devoid of empathy or compassion.
     
    James T. McAllister stepped forward for the feeling a flutter in his heart knowing he had a quark of a chance of being released on parole. Fifteen years he spent behind these iron walls, years to contemplate his actions and his mistakes.
     
    Cockeyed judges sat around a table with surreptitious gazes focused keenly on him. James felt his soul being examined and knew they were reading every thought and emotion he projected with their fancy head gear. Wondering at what point liberty failed and when people such as himself could be sentenced by only thinking about committing a crime.
     
    He just sat there on the chair, knowing that no questions would ever be asked or answered. They would just stare at him peering into every thought, every emotion he felt. This was for them to see if he was capable of being a psychopath or a danger to society on the outside.
     
    “Prisoner number 43016” One of the judges spoke which was highly irregular and unexpected.
     
    You can cast those numbers and your uniform away, the board grants you parole and clearance to integrate with society pending no further disturbing thoughts or actions are performed again.
     
    James literally cried out in jubilee, his lips quivering as tears streamed down his eyes. His judges however had no emotion on their blank expressionless faces, instead they just rose and departed the room via doors in the back. Prison guards came in to release his handcuff’s and James felt freedom a tangible and palpable thing just moments away.
     
    Now if only he could be lucky enough to keep it.

     

  3. Kelly says:

    ETCHED ON THE CASE OF MY HEART

    The scars are still there, plain as day
    etched on the case of my heart
     
    I remember the day you stood behind me
    your head cockeyed, you made mocking smileys
    in the mirror; we laughed ‘til we fluttered soft, back
    into bed

    Life never was peaches and dreams with you
    In lucky times, jubilee lasted a week or two,
    in the flash of a quark you were under a bottle and
    out of your head

    Two crazy psychopaths, believin’ in love
    with problems we thought we could rise above
    We pledged to forever; at least one of us
    meant what we said
     
     
    I loved you most of all
    when you were quiet and small
    You drank your weakness away;
    slept it off while I
    stroked your hair
     
     
    I packed up to leave in our second fall
    One surreptitious glance back, got stopped in the hall
    You begged me to stay
    with blue miracles
    that turned out grey

    I had too much empathy, all the times I cried
    I’d gotten used to my prison, or Lord knows I tried
    but you’d be holding me still in that jail if I
    hadn’t said,
     
     
    “Babe, I love you most of all
    when you’re quiet and small
    You drink your demons away;
    sleep it off while I
    stroke your hair”
     
     
    Maybe I’ll never find love any other way
    But it don’t compute to love, that hope and pain
    The scars are still there,
    and they’re still so plain
    ‘cause they’re etched on the case of my heart

  4. Chris Fries says:

    The latest chapter…
     
    “The Look of Murder — Pt 10”

    It took a minute for my eyes to adjust to the dim light of the bar, but I still had no problem picking out Johhny Mangano sitting in the corner booth, his back to the wall, watching the door as I came in. It was only two o’clock in the afternoon, so he had the joint to himself, but even so, his size and harsh expression would be enough to make a man take notice, if only to immediately classify him as someone to avoid.   Not that anyone might mistake him for a crazy psychopath or some two-bit thug just out of prison.  Johnny was dressed in a precisely-tailored pin-striped suit, he was freshly-shaved, and every hair on his head was slicked tightly into place.  But his thick neck, massive hands, tight-lipped scowl, and piercing eyes showed he was clearly a man who was best to give a wide berth to.

    I stopped at the bar and ordered a Pfeiffer beer, gave the barkeep a buck and told him to pocket the change, and watched the guy smile as he rang the cash drawer open with a loud, “quark-clang.”  I took my beer to join Johnny in the booth.

    “Hi Johnny,” I said as I sat, “I appreciate you looking into this for me.”

    He nodded, slowly, his eyes never leaving my face.  I noticed he only had a glass of ice and water in front of him.  “Buy you a beer?” I offered.

    “No thanks,” he said, without a flutter of inflection.

    “Too early?  Well, it’s five o’clock somewhere.”  I shrugged and took a sip off my glass.

    “So tell me again why you’re interested in this information.”

    That was Johnny — direct and to the point, and if he had a question, he had no hesitation asking, right to my face, without a hint of warm empathy or joking, cockeyed curiosity. 

    But what could I tell him?  That I was smitten with some rich broad who was currently in jail for the murder of her husband; who’d I only known for a few days; who probably considered me less significant to her life than the guys who cleaned her fireplace or raked her yard?  Johnny would think I was nuts — that I’d developed some sort of muscle weakness in my heart that was preventing the blood from reaching my brain.

    Hell, maybe I had.

    Still, Johnny deserved the truth.  In spite of his gruff exterior, I’d gotten to know the man underneath, and not only did I respect him and trust his judgment, I truthfully owed him my life.  He’d saved it at least once.

    “Look, Johnny,” I said.  “I got pulled into this mess when Margaret Thurston came to me to find her husband Charles, and sure enough, I found him right where she thought he’d be, up in his fancy fishing cabin north of Flint.  Except he wasn’t sitting merrily on the dock, smiling at me as he dipped his hook; he was sprawled across the cabin floor, deader than a doornail, his brains knocked out with a camera, of all things.  So now the cops have her locked up tighter than Mae West’s corset, thinking she rubbed out her hubby, and are all hush-hush about whatever they have on her.  But I’m not buying that she did it.”

    Johnny took a sip of his ice water, his face rock still as he gazed at me. “Why not?” he said as he sat the glass down.

    “Come on.  I don’t need the war department to run this through one of their rooms of vacuum tubes to tell me that it don’t compute.  If she did it, why would she leave the stiff there and then hire me to go up and find it?  And, ok, so maybe she wasn’t in a puddle of tears, but she still seemed pretty knocked over by the fact that the guy was dead; she didn’t seem like she was ready to throw a fancy jubilee celebrating her new widowhood.  For that matter, I can’t find a reason why she’d want to knock the dolt off in the first place.  She seemed to have a pretty good setup.  Something’s missing.”

    Johnny nodded.  “And you think you can get to the bottom of it and find that missing piece.”

    I shrugged. “Maybe, if I had something to go on.”

    “Because of your deep and abiding love for truth and justice, right?” There was the slighted twinkle in Johnny’s eyes. 

    I snorted and toasted him with the glass as I lifted my beer to take another sip.

    “Ok,” he said, leaning back into the cushion of the booth, “so we come to the reason for our surreptitious meeting.  I can at least give you the motive.”

    I sat my beer down.

    “I talked to a few contacts in the department,” he said.  “The film canister they found had blood on it, and they believe the tests will prove it was the Thurston’s blood.  There were no clear prints on the canister, but there was film in it, and they’ve developed the film.”

    He paused.  His cop instincts had been stroked.  He was enjoying this.  “Yeah, so what was on the film?” I said.

    “Pictures of a nude woman.  But not the wife.  Blonde, short, young, and very attractive, or so I’ve been told.  The pictures seem to have been taken at the cabin; in the bed, on the couch, even outside on the deck.  It appears Mr. Thurston had a friend he enjoyed fishing with.  Not to mention photography.”

    I was stunned. “Do they know who she is?”

    “Not yet.  The cops are keeping the information under their hats, although they’ve made a few low-profile inquiries.  So far, the people they’ve spoken to seems certain that Thurston never strayed and no-one knows who the woman in the pictures might be.”

    “How do they know Charles even took the pictures?”

    “It seems a man’s hand was visible in one of the close-up shots.  He was reaching out and caressing the woman’s chest as he took the picture.  The cops identified the wedding ring.  It was Thurston, all right, and it sure provides a motive for the wife.  ‘A woman scorned,’ as it were.”

    I finished my beer, my thoughts a jumble.

    I still didn’t believe it.
     

  5. Lydia says:

    Ruth stared cockeyed at the results from the latest round of human testing on prison populations.  In a fluttery instant her face melted back into stone.
     
    “Well? Does it compute?” Sarah wiped a smear of Quark from her lower lip, brushed the crumbs off of her shirt and wobbled her plate on the edge of their work station.
     
    In a rare moment of weakness a surreptitious smile twitched across Ruth’s lips. Sarah’s jubilee bounced off the walls.
     
    “IL-47 has increased acts of empathy by two standard deviations from the mean when compared to the control group,” said Ruth. “The placebo group didn’t have a statically significant reaction to the treatment. It’s just one study, though.”
     
    “I know it could still be a fluke,” Sarah said. “We’ll need to retest it on psychopaths who aren’t involved with the criminal justice system butt this could be our big breakthrough!”
     
    Ruth glanced at Sarah, nodded almost imperceptibly and then turned back to their data.

  6. Anne Maybus says:

    With all the love and concern of a psychopath, she ignored his weakness and carried on walking.  “hurry up”’ his grandmother called over her shoulder as she strode purposefully onward.  “I don’t want my wine to get hot.”

    The day was hot and dry and the wind stang as it blew past his bare legs.  Leaves tumbled along the footpath and into the gutters where they lay in wait with their cockeyed serrations ready to scratch bare feet.  He’d waited for her outside the Jubilee Hotel for an hour in the heat while she drank with her cronies inside.  He’d hoped that would be enough to put her in a good mood for a while but she’d bought a bottle out with her.  He knew that meant he was in for a hard time.  With any luck she’d pass out after a while and he’d be free for a while.

    With a surreptitious glance at the people watching him struggle, he could feel their empathy but knew that none of them could break him free of his prison.  His arms were tiring as he lugged the shopping and the wine bottle  and his legs weren’t long enough to keep pace with hers.

    He looked ahead at the broad figure of his grandmother, her rear end shuddering like softened quark inside her jersey pants.   She looked so harmless – soft grey hair and flapping pink cardigan – but he knew better.

    He knew he would get into trouble if the wine lost its chill.  In his head he tried to compute time vs distance vs chill factor but that only started the flutter of anxiety in his chest again. 

    She got mean when her wine was hot and there was still another few blocks to go…

  7. meek willed says:

    After wolfing down the bacon sarnie I seem to share some empathy with sue (who didn’t want me to go) cause I had developed the same weakness for her over night but I had to go but before I did I promises to tack sue out to dinner or a movie after my Gran left for her home.
    I said goodbye and went on my home my tummy was all a flutter from asking sue out but then i had to start focusing as i got close to home i had to very surreptitious about the fact i had sleep in the same room let alone the same bed as sue even if we were fully clothed as my mom was one who worred like it was going out of fashion.
    I came in the back door and said “hi Gran” as she was waiting to give me a big hug an she ask me “what have i said to you” and I cockily reply “you have told me many things over the years” and then she told me for about the fiftieth time “call me Jubilee not Gran it makes me fell old” and i just look at Gran grinning at the ideas of saying  “but you are old” and decided agents it because she had work in a prison with the cockeyed psychopaths before she decided to retier and she could probably still tack on some of the prisoner let alone a skinny guy like me.
    Then I relished I had been set some home work on the properties of quark and if it was any good for making props do to a computer malfunction but honesty i was going to leave it till the last moment like most people.

  8. Anne Wayman says:

    I had a surreptitious, cockeyed empathy with the psychopath. Truth be told he made my heart flutter with weakness – it just didn’t compute. I fed him six spoonfuls of 2/3 of quark when he left for prison – a mixed jubilee to be sure.

  9. Bluto couldn’t believe his misfortune. Thrown into prison for terroristic threats, he had the bad luck to have a psychopath for a cellmate. Cockeyed the Sailor was doing a ten year bid for slaughtering twenty-nine pie-eating contestants at the 30th Annual Sweethaven Spinach Jubilee. Of the original thirty contestants, Cockeyed was the only one to eat one hundred spinach quiche pies. Apparently drunk with unbounded power, the victorious sailor bounced around like a quark, delivering fatal roundhouse blows to the heads of everyone on the stage. By the time he’d come down off his high, Cockeyed had forever destroyed the idyllic façade of Sweethaven. He was thrown in jail, pending trial.

    Bluto had followed the case with interest. With Cockeyed out of the way, only one person stood between Bluto and Olive Oyl, the only woman who made his manly heart flutter. That man was Cockeyed’s big brother, Popeye. Bluto was hoping for the death penalty but, he knew the powers that be didn’t have the guts to kill a killer.

    The jury had a weakness for this slightly familiar man and their empathy threatened to derail the prosecutor’s case. Fortunately for the citizens of Sweethaven, the prosecutor was able to slip in a surreptitious bribe to the bleeding hearts on the jury, while they were in deliberations. Bluto only knew about this because he was the one who had threatened the prosecutor with bodily harm if she didn’t win the case.

    The verdict did not compute; Cockeyed was found guilty of the lesser charges of 29 counts of negligent homicide, rather than 2nd degree murder. In Sweethaven, 2nd degree murder convictions were rare. However, the prosecutor was sure her case had been air-tight. Afraid for her life, she spilled the beans to the powers that be.

    Bluto was arrested on trumped-up charges of threatening to blow up Sweethaven’s Thimble Theater. Ironically (or not), the same prosecutor managed to win the case against Bluto with circumstantial evidence. Bluto had hoped to do his time, get out and pummel all those people who had testified against him.

    With Cockeyed in the same cell, though, Bluto knew he wouldn’t last ten minutes. His fears were confirmed when he saw the empty cans of spinach on the floor.

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Mitchell: No clearer example exists of creative writing than what you did here. Outstanding twist on a familiar tale too. Standing ovation.

    • Ha ha ha! I love it. 🙂

      • Thanks, Becca! Your word list was great! Quark was tough but, that’s what it’s all about.
         
        Cheers,
         
        Mitch
         

        • Glad I challenged you. 🙂
          Also, I didn’t know exactly what I was going to write when I picked them either. Quark led me in a totally different direction. Which is what the CCC is for.

        • …Oh yeah. And it was a nod at my love for *nearly* all things Star Trek. 🙂

          • That’s something. Are you saying that Chapter 36 was not in the plan before you came up with your words?
             
            That Exorcist scene was perfect.
             
            Cheers,
             
            Mitch
             

          • Oh yes, Part 36 was in the plan. It’s all in the plan. I know the ending of the story. What I hadn’t really planned on was the way “Jax” was going to speak. But I really like what came out of this challenge. I think it made the whole scene a little more ambiguous/mysterious.

          • Okay. I have a better understanding, now. CCC just helped you frame the scene.
             
            Yes, everything is spinning in my head!
             
            Cheers,
             
            Mitch
             

          • Shane Arthur says:

            @Mitchell: I always wonder if people have their structure and plot points established and let the words bounce their story around within these boundaries, or if they pants the story and let it free flow. It still blows my mind to think how the CCC influences the stories I see here.

          • @Shane, I do both. Particularly when I was doing Wife of Stephen Hawking, I knew where I wanted to go. I just told the story and used the words opportunistically.
             
            Now, things like Cockeyed, Molten Hail and most of the one-off submissions, are based on the flashes of inspiration I get when I see the list.
             
            Occasionally, I wake up and say, “Today, I want to do a poem.” Or most recently, “I feel like writing a fairy tale.”
             
            Of the three methods, the inspirational flashes are the most fun. They surprise and delight me – giving me an incentive to create something new.
             
            Cheers,
             
            Mitch
             

          • Chris Fries says:

            Yeah — I’m with Mitch.  On my stand-alone stories, I tend to focus on one word to set the scene, than let the story take me where it will, off-the-cuff.
             
            But with my “The Look of Murder” series, I have a definite story arc in mind, and with those, I try to shoe-horn the words into my story.
             
            Both methods are fun, but truthfully — I prefer the improvisational method of the first.
             

          • Shane Arthur says:

            @Chris: I still am amazed at how the CCC influences the final product. Isn’t it amazing!

          • Lydia says:

            I tend to set up a loose storyline and then figure out how the words fit in.

          • Shane Arthur says:

            @Lydia: I would have to set up at least a loose storyline or these words would take me in a million directions. I need boundaries or I can’t function well enough.

    • Chris Fries says:

      Oh, wow — wonderful, Mitch!!!!
       
      “I yam what I yam!”
       
      Oh the perils of being Bluto!   (Although, when I first started reading — ‘Bluto’ made me think of “Animal House” instead of Popeye, lol!)
       
      Wonderful job!
       

    • Cathy Miller says:

      @Mitch-boy, does that take me back to my childhood-bit of a twist, but then my baby boomer brain needs help remembering-guess I missed this episode-LOL! Loved it, Mitch!

      • Thanks, Cathy. It is precisely the slightly unfocused lens of childhood memory that, like a  half-remembered nightmare, allows for such a fanciful farce to surface.
         
        Hmmm…I’m sure there’s a word for constructs like “such a fanciful farce to surface”.
        Not quite a palindrome, only slightly alliterative. Any ideas?
         
        Cheers,
         
        Mitch
         

  10.  
    Foreign Identity
    Part 36
     
    Kel blinked when she heard her name, but it was a struggle to force open her heavy eyelids. How long had she been asleep? It felt like she’d awaken from a coma. The last thing she remembered was lying down in her own bed, back in the cabin.
     
    She’d waited for Jax all day, staying near the edge of the forest until hunger made her feel faint. But she’d pushed past it, waiting until dusk for him to return. When he never did, fear picked apart her insides, a little at a time. She knew something very bad had happened to him. And yet she was too much of a coward to go back in the building after him. Her own weakness made her feel ashamed. She fled and when darkness came, she was safely back at the cabin.
     
    But now, having opened her eyes, she found herself in a new place: a white room with no windows or doors. Her heart fluttered when she heard Jax’s voice again, but the jubilee at finding him alive was quickly crushed. She was struck with an intense sense of déjà vu – one that brought a sharp fear along with it. She was waking up in a strange place with no memory of how she got there and the two of them were together again. It was just like the beginning of the whole ordeal. The memory of that first prison was all too fresh in her mind.
     
    Was it a dream? She lay there for a moment, taking it all in with her cockeyed view, head still against the cold floor. Jax rushed over to her, kneeling down at her side. She pushed herself up into a sitting position and he threw his arms around her.
     
    “Kel!”
     
     Her heart flooded with emotions as she held him tightly, as if trying to absorb all that was rushing from him. She savored the embrace after so recently living the heartbreak contained within the journal. This moment was a stark contrast to all she’d discovered, and she cherished it. Maybe it could erase the reality of their past.
     
    But an instant later all the warm feelings vanished and a cold fear crept up her spine, bristling the hairs on the back of her neck. With Jax’s arms still around her, she froze, staring at the hovering entity across the room. For a second, she couldn’t speak. She gulped and forced the fear out of her throat.
     
    “Jax – it’s here!” Her voice came out in just a gasp of a whisper. He tore himself away and whirled around to see what she meant. But the initial concern on his face faded into something resembling more of a resigned frustration. His shoulders sagged and he glared at the thing.
     
    “I know,” he said, rolling his eyes.
     
    “Where are we? And how did I get here?” she asked.
     
    “Zap brought you.”

    Zap?” Her eyes followed his, settling again on the strange, hovering wave. “It has a name?”
     
    He looked away sheepishly. “I just started calling it that.”
     
    “Is it…” She hesitated. “…alive?”
     
    He shrugged. “I don’t know. But it can communicate.”

    What?”
     
    “I have a system. I ask a question. It zaps once for no, twice for yes.”
     
    Kel felt her mouth hanging open. She clamped it shut. “But weren’t these things…trying to kill us? When I ran out of the building, they had you cornered. What did they do to you, Jax?” Her voice rose in pitch at the end, growing frantic with confusion. The waves were the enemy, right? So why did it seem like Jax was suddenly comfortable around this creature, this…thing? It didn’t compute.
     
    He folded his arms and looked at her evenly. “Well, they aren’t the most considerate creatures.” He paused a moment. “But if they were trying to kill us, they already would have. Believe me, they’ve had every opportunity.” He shuddered and she wondered what he wasn’t telling her.
     
    “In that room with the chairs…they showed me things. We’re on another planet, Kel. They brought us here for some reason…I haven’t figured out why yet.”
     
    Her knees went weak. She felt herself falling. Still close, Jax grabbed her by the arm, guiding her gracefully down to the floor. Mind reeling, she forced herself to focus on something. Her eyes landed on his worry-creased face. She held his gaze without blinking. Coherence was paramount.
     
    “I have one question,” she finally managed.
     
    “What is it?” he asked, his deep eyes searching her face.
     
    “They brought us here, against our will. Wiped our memories. They kept us locked in a cell. We escaped, but upon our return, they captured you again, and then brought me here, too. We’re trapped all over again.”
     
    He nodded slowly. “I’m not sure about the memory loss, but the rest is pretty much accurate, I think. What’s your question?”
     
    “My question is, considering all that, exactly what leads you to believe they aren’t the enemy?”
     
    He didn’t answer immediately. For a moment, he seemed deep in thought. Then his gaze traveled to the floating wave. She followed with her eyes. It might have been her imagination, but she thought the hovering ripple was closer now. She frowned and looked back at him.
     
    “Of course everything you say is true. But Zap has…helped me.” When he met her eyes again she saw in them a trace of something out of place…guilt?
     
    “I wish you’d stop calling it that. What exactly has it done for you?”
     
    “He…it brought me food…answered my questions…and I think it misunderstood my wishes…” He glanced over at the corner of the room. Kel turned to see what he was looking at and for the first time noticed a notebook on the floor. It lay open to a sketch of a woman. She stretched over, grabbed it, and surveyed the picture. He’d been drawing her again?
     
    The sheepish look was back. “I think it thought I wanted it to bring you here.”
     
    Kel was about to speak when she saw from the corner of her eye that the wave was much closer now. She whirled to see it surreptitiously creeping up on them. It must have been inching this way the whole time. It was only a foot away from Jax, behind him on the right.
     
    “Jax! Watch—”
     
    Jax turned and threw out his hand before she had time to finish. His arm made contact with the wave, making it buzz and flicker spastically. Jax’s whole body jerked and his eyes rolled back into his skull. Kel watched, horrified. The whole episode must have lasted only a second. Before she could shake the shock and react, all was calm again.

    Jax blinked three times, but something seemed wrong. His posture had changed, somehow. Straightened. His head rotated mechanically, surveying her and then turning back to the wave. Then his eyes flared.
     
    “Get me out of here!” A roar thundered from Jax’s mouth, making his entire body tremble. He shook his fists with rage. Kel scrambled back from the ferocity of the outburst, cowering in the corner of the room.
     
    “This is hell, do you hear me, you ignorant piece of recycle? Ejection is paramount!” His eyes were wide and mad-looking. He was raving like a psychopath, yelling at the wave which in turn shrunk lower. It seemed to exude its own dose of fright, if that was at all possible.
     
    After his outburst, the wave flickered a few times, but not haphazardly. It was staccato, a series of short pulses, almost like it was sending a Morse code signal of some sort.
     
    Jax (or the person who had been Jax only moments earlier) stared at it, concentrating on its rhythm as if reading a response of some sort. When the waved stopped pulsing, he shook his head vigorously.
     
    “No. The project is fail! We must abort the venture. You must find a way to extract!”
     
    Another series of pulsing buzzes.
     
    “What do mean you can’t decode? There are trillions of you. If I could merge right now I would solve this whole thing in a gigawatt.”
     
    Zap, zap, zap.
     
    “Then multiply, you spawn of a neuron!” He slapped his forehead with his hand, then stalked back and forth in an awkward pacing motion. “An entire species and you can’t do a simple retraction? I swear, if I could input my intellect, it would all be complete. Process a little harder and get us out.” He gestured at Kel when he said “us,” the first time he’d acknowledged her presence since the horrific transformation. She shuddered and hugged her knees.
     
    “And when you get us out, exterminate the hosts. And the rest of the humans, for that matter. Nothing less than great annihilation.”
     
    The wave emitted a long series of frantic and erratic pulses.
     
    “What the quark is wrong with you? Are you out of your nucleus? What do you mean you are ‘fond of them?’ You don’t have empathy with the offenders holding us hostage! You have empathy with your own kind! Wake up you electric piece of vapor!”
     
    Suddenly, the wave made contact again, interrupting the conversation (if that’s what you could call it), and short-circuiting Jax again. He fell onto his side, twitched a few times and was motionless.
     
    Kel stared, mouth hanging open. What had she just witnessed?
     
    After a few moments, Jax groaned. His head rolled and he rubbed his temple. Then he opened his eyes and looked at her.

     

     

  11. Jesse says:

    You’d think the flutter of new life felt beneath her waistband would have brought on a rousing jubilee.
     
    It was her weakness for the sad story of this prison inmate that made her fall for him.  She was able to overlook all his surreptitious dealings.
     
    She was in love, and she thought he was, too, even though he had this cockeyed way of grinning at her when she discussed their future together.
     
    After the first baby, things did not compute.  Once her attentions were divided between her man and the baby, she witnessed his total lack of empathy.
     
    The first time she asked if he’d change a diaper he glared at her saying, “I’m not touching anything that fills its pants with somethin’ that smells like a pile of quark.”
     
    Now, sitting in her doctor’s office, about to hear that she was expecting their second child, she was faced with the real possibility that she’d married a psychopath.

  12. I hope you have empathy for me in my travels through Italy. My only weakness now is that the wifi sometimes does not compute with me. But I have finally made it to Rome to celebrate in the Easter jubilee. I’m hoping to be a just one quark amongst many others in the crowd at San Pietro Plaza on Easter Sunday. I understand if some of you look at me a little cockeyed and think me a psychopath for spending so much money, but I made this surreptitious trip because I was feeling trapped where I was, almost like prison. But now I am free and can flutter about like the moth I truly am!

  13. Dear Becca,

    I saw what you did on Twitter. You psychopath! Have you no empathy for the weakness of others at all? Taunting us in public like we’re just some kind of… writer.

    Oh sure, I can compute the odd quark, and even the strange ones. The up ones get me down though, as do the down ones. But you already knew that, didn’t you? Surreptitious video of that time in prison gives you the edge over the rest of us, allowing you to find just…the…right…words [Shatner style!] to make our hearts flutter and our brains explode in a cockeyed jubliee.

    Well, it won’t work on me. I can haz resistance!

  14. Cathy Miller says:

    Michael never understood the empathy some people showed towards a psychopath, as if they envied the notoriety in some sick, surreptitious way.
    He watched the newspaper flutter to the floor, denying him the release of an angry toss. He felt a strange weakness he could not compute. This wasn’t his first murder case. It definitely wouldn’t be his last. Yet his emotions were a jubilee of conflict, without a quark of sense between them.

    This one was different. He didn’t know how. He didn’t know why. He just knew it was different. It was going to take more than a prison sentence to straighten out his cockeyed feelings.

  15. Cathy Miller says:

    @Shane-tried to edit to add a space after the 1st paragraph, but edit feature hung up loading & timed out.

  16. I had to get out of this stinkin’ prison in time for the Ozark National Scenic River White Oak Jubilee. If Congress wasn’t owned by the Natural Gas companies I wouldn’t be in here for chaining myself to a 200 year-old beauty, one of the few trees not deforested during the rabid lumber days of yore.
     
    Before I could say, surreptitious fracking freaks, I found myself in the back of an unmarked van speeding without a trial toward FCI Forest City. My cell-mate, a complete psychopath with a non-stop eye flutter, nonetheless has agreed to feign a Crohnes flair up so I can put on my best empathy face and help him down to the infirmary.
     
    While he’s busy saying, “Yes, that kills” when examined by the nurse with a weakness for tattooed body builder ex-fireman, I can mix six quark particles together and blow a hole the size of a prison tray in the wall. Outside, my fellow tree lover Donovan, will pick me up in his new car fueled by acorns. Ford calls it Pine Rover.
     
    It didn’t take me long to compute the magnitude of such a blast, when my friend Darryl, who is truly cockeyed, managed to distract the guard guarding the visitor shack long enough to leave me a copy of “Escape from Federal Penitentiaries for Dummies.”
     
    Wish me luck …

  17. Tanja Cilia says:

     
    Quark, cottage cheese, or ricotta; what’s the difference?” he asked, rather as if he were trying to compute some cockeyed physics problem in the  preparation of  a recipe for the Jubilee celebrations. She cast him a surreptitious glance, an inexplicable weakness in her knees and her heart a-flutter.  She knew he was a certified psychopath, but she felt such an empathy with him she would gladly live with him in his prison cell.

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Tanja: I believe you’re the only one to use quark as you did. Cool, and you start me on the cheese path and end with psychopath dating. Loved the style and twists of this post.

      • Tanja Cilia says:

        We use ricotta a lot in Malta – both for food and desserts, and eaten on its own.  We make it differently from the Italians next door – we use the whey from the milk of the day before, they use seawater.  That is why (ah-ha!) our “rikotta”  tatses much better than quark or cottage cheese or rocotta!  Thank you.

    • Cathy Miller says:

      @Tanja-now that’s ♥ 🙂

  18. Chris Fries says:

    What a tantalizing taste of a greater story, Tanja!
     
    Awesome!
     

  19. I feel like I’m in prison. It’s the jubilee of our marriage; one that you would compute the best you have ever come across given the exclusive cognacs and the dazzlingly expensive chandelier hanging over my designer, figure-flattering gown. That would flatter me; for in actuality, this is nothing more than a surreptitious union; my empathy for this psychopath in exchange for the voluminous wealth that he possesses. What was I thinking – getting all cockeyed like that? I feel the flutter of a quark inside of me – vulnerability – a weakness I cannot free. Please save me, for my entire life has been a calamitous lie.

  20. Rebecca says:

    Jecca doesn’t have empathy for people who can’t take responsibility for their lives. She shook her head after reading the front paper; her heart was a flutter. A 25-year-old woman was murdered by her husband. Apparently, the guy had a rap sheet (been in prison many times) and was unstable. Honestly, if you knew the guy was a psychopath, why the hell did your marry him? What doesn’t compute? Jecca thought. Jecca wasn’t the typical female and wouldn’t resort to surreptitious behavior to get a man. She liked her independence and did what she wanted to do when she wanted. If she needed a man, she could get one and move on. No commitment, no attachments. That was her type of deal. “Guess some women have a weakness for guys that need saving. That’s too bad,” Jecca said out loud to no one. Of course, Jecca’s mother thought her daughter’s viewpoint on dating and marriage was cockeyed. Enough of this doom and gloom! Today was Downey’s 100th Jubilee. Jecca knew that Rose DeWitt would bring her famous tort using quark, her secret ingredient. Yummy! Jecca was the hostess for the 100th Jubilee and knew how to dazzle a crowd. She absolutely loved the spotlight and didn’t make any apologies for it.

    • Rebecca, this is nicely woven. We get to see a woman just chillin’ and ruminating, possibly while getting ready to attend the event? This is he kind of character development that makes for a great story!
       
      Cheers,
       
      Mitch
       

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Rebecca: I’ve spent 20 minutes trying to find this old book I have that reminds me of this story. I can’t find it and I can’t remember what the name is. I’ll let you know when I do. As you can probably guess, I like this submission and similar story lines.

    • Cathy Miller says:

      @Rebecca-great character-love it!

  21. Rebecca says:

    Everyone,
    These are terrific stories! I love the creativity 🙂

  22. Anne Maybus says:

    I love the way everyone has created such different stories from a few little words.  Long live creativity.

  23. Rebecca says:

    @ Mitch … Glad you liked the story. I had ‘chills’ when I was writing it. Jecca is quite the character 🙂

  24. margaret says:

    It does not compute every time I read about some crazy woman who has formed an attachment
    to some psychopath in prison. What kind of cockeyed notion of any love relationship or normal
    future could possibly cause a flutter to her heart or a jubilee in her pants?

    I have no empathy for these misguided fools with surrepticious intelligence and weakness of spirit.
    Many a woman has written letter of unrequieted love to Charlie Manson only to get nothing more than quark!

  25. Rebecca says:

    @ Shane … Wow! Really? Glad you like the story line. If the author’s deceased, maybe I was channeling their spirit. Lol.

  26. Rebecca says:

    @ Cathy … Thank you!

  27. Late on another one, but still back writing!  I think this will be another good story to hit at for a while before we go back to Avenged in Blood.  I think I will call this one, Downward Spiral.  Let me know what you think!  (this one starts on CCC 136!)
     
     That weekend was my last with Sarah. We were cleaning the old house and things just got worse and worse. We started at the top, cleaning years of accumulated dust from the corners and cobwebs from the ceiling. We cleaned old paint that had faded around non-existent picture frames, we scrubbed years of soot from the old gas stove in the kitchen. We were here, finally in our own house. Finally in a place we could afford.
    The old farmhouse was cheap. No one really knew why the previous renters had left, they just packed up their car in the middle of the night and left in a squeal of tires and a shower of gravel. It had been abandoned for years when the last member of the Clancy family had died. He didn’t have a will or any heirs, so the state took the property and sold it; to us.
    The first couple of weeks were a jubilee for Sarah and I. We were finally moving up in the world yet our marriage was full of weakness. I had some cockeyed hope that being out here alone together on 40 acres of prime Ohio farmland could reignite some quark of the fire that we had not 3 years ago.
    She seemed happy at first. We went through the barn and some of the outbuildings first, seeing if there was anything worth salvaging. In the end we took a few pieces and called the junk dealer to pick up the rest. The yard was coming along, and we were finally ready to clean out more than just the front room and the small bedroom off of the kitchen. Upstairs was a mess, but the large master bedroom needed us to be in it.
    So that weekend, 2 weeks after we moved in, we cleaned. All was well until we started on the dark basement. It was one of those old basements right out of a horror movie. Creaky wooden stairs, single light bulbs hung from plain wires didn’t quite illuminate the corners. Rough hewn stone lined the walls and was perpetually damp. Even the floor was dirt, even if it had been packed down by generations of Clancy’s before us.
    Sarah didn’t like the basement. Her arachnophobia kicked in the first time she went down there and she hadn’t been since. I couldn’t blame her really, there was nothing but some shelves filled with old canning jars and even older fruit as well as a well scarred wooden workbench against one wall.
    I had empathy for her, I didn’t really like to go down there myself. At least at first. There was something, just wrong about the basement. Sarah wouldn’t come down to help so I went myself.
    I tried to sing to myself to dispel the fear I began to feel as I descended the steps. I clutched the bucket of cleaning supplies closer to my chest as I pulled the string to turn on the pitifully dim lightbulbs as I went along.
    This place “felt” different today. Something was making me uneasy. This was the first day that I had spent more than a few scant minutes down here, and I attributed the feeling to that. I started to clean the old wooden shelves under the stairs. Old bottles and papers went into a garbage bag. Dust flew. Sticks and small bags of animal bones hit the garbage as well.
    As I continued, things got stranger in that basement. As I dusted the rough stone walls I noticed small holes drilled into them. There were sets all around the basement. One had a brown substance around it. My heart began to flutter as I thought, “Blood?”
    I nearly passed out when I found the wooden crate of shackles under the workbench. They were all rusted and stained around the manacles. There were plugs on the other end that fit the holes in the walls. As my mind began to compute what I was finding, I did scream. This basement had been used as a prison. What other things were done down here?
    Sarah made the mistake of coming down those stairs just then. I tried to be surreptitious in hiding the box but she saw it. She came over to see what I was trying to hide. One look inside and her eyes widened. “What the?” she asked. “I dunno.” I said. She looked up to me, and her eyes rolled back in her head.
    I caught her as she went down, convulsing. Then came a low moan that built to the most horrible scream I had ever heard. After a few minutes she came back around I carried her upstairs. She woke when I placed her on the couch.
    She looked at me like I was the devil himself, just before she screamed again and ran for the door. I thought about going after her, but some unseen hand held me back and another held my tongue so I couldn’t scream out to her. I could only watch her go and writhe against unseen forces.
    Little did I know, that day was the first on my descent to psychopath.


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