Writing Prompts – Creative Copy Challenge #144

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. Spot
  2. Feel
  3. Cut
  4. Forget
  5. Shock
  6. Look
  7. Send
  8. Follow
  9. Random
  10. Wild

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


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

  1. Shane Arthur says:

    “Billy, I’s feel likes I’m in shock or somethin’. Like someone done did cut out my heart and randomly forgetted to tell me it gonna’ hurt somethin’ terrible. When the museum lady done followed me into the slaughterhouse and asked if we had anybody in the family named Spot, it just about sended crap down my leg. Dis is too wild to believe.”

    Look Bobby. I understand you wanted dat one million dollars. I did too. But your cousin dat works at the museum done made a mistake. The bones they done dug up aint no flyin’ Terry-dactol. They’s from our dearly departed dog Rango-Sue who choked to death swallowin’ a whole turkey.”

  2. Shenee says:

    The Superhero
    People used to follow him, especially the younger guys. They looked up to him because he was the strongest. He forgets about that part when he takes walks in the city on Sunday spring afternoons when the pain in his face is even more intense than usual. The pain starts at the cut that lines those high cheekbones that he had become known for. When people ask him for his autograph, they avert his eyes, trying not to look at that scar on his face, the spot burned in history that somehow marked the end of something and the start of something else. He shocks people with his charisma, still in place as if nothing ever happened. He still comes with the Sunday special messages, now less pointed and more random but still there.
    In his younger days, he had this smile that belonged on the front of cereal boxes and transfixed on action figures. One that represented a fine line between cockiness and overconfidence and perfectly illustrated his capacity for saving people. And that is what he did, he saved people. He still smiles now, although it’s wilder and not nearly as frequent. His face is more even now. And he still tries to save people but his efforts are less effective because he feels less invincible and there are others who can do that job for him.

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Shenee: Fantastic!

    • A wounded superhero who knows mortality and loses confidence.  Good tale.

    • This is pretty cool, Shenee. Will you be taking up the mantle of the new, darker era of comic book heroes? Things were so simple when I was a lad: Bad guys had the bad luck to run into superhero.
      Superhero bags, em, tags em and flies off into sunset. The end.
      I like your version better 🙂

      • Shenee says:

        Thanks guys!
        And Mitch — haha, I like the superheros to be a little more complicated. It’s more fun that way I think. Although that type of superhero interaction is still satisfying. Have you ever seen megamind?

        • We JUST watched Megamind. Now, that was not for kids. LOL It was intricate.
          I agree that superheroes can no longer be one-dimensional. Yet, we of a certain age still respond to clean-cut, Smallville simplicity of Superman.
          Phineas and Ferb’s Perry Platypus is the only one who can get away with one-dimensionality, in my opinion 🙂 (Doofenshmirtz is complex enough for both of them.)

    • Chris Fries says:

      Wow — very, very nice!  Deep emotional context, great characterization, and a compelling telling of the scene.
      Well done!

  3. margaret says:

    I feel my inner child
    is really quite random and wild.
    She makes me jump before I look
    and forget to follow  the “good book”.

    She makes me want to cut and run
    every time I spot a nun!
    And frivolous messages she’ll send
    telling me to spend and spend!

    But she sometimes feels a shock
    when her butt I have to lock
    in the back corner of my brain
    before folks think I am insane.

  4. Anne Wayman says:

    The cut was a shock! I thought I’d never forget the feeling but I did. Looking back now at that wild time, happening in that particular spot, I’m tempted to send myself a random virtual card and determined to continue following my intuition.

  5. Here was my poem today inspired by these words:

    Gang Initiation

    Forget the shock
    look at the cut spot
    feel the random wild pain
    follow your resolve now
    random test finally passed
    send your enemies scurrying
    you joined the gang

  6. Lydia says:

    The Paradise Record was a drowsy, forgetful paper. It wouldn’t have survived all these years had it woken up. Entombed, Ed and Marlene cut through the search engine with sharp-toothed queries. At first it looked like they were catalogued chronologically. No such luck. The database pulled up all of the 1910 records that had been salvaged but within that year they were arranged at random. Christmas greetings canoodled with the previous winter’s warning about a typhoid fever outbreak in a neighbouring town.
    “A small concourse of mourners gathered to lament an untimely death,” Ed began reading aloud as soon as he spotted it.
    “Mrs. Alfred Combs died unexpectedly in her home early Sunday morning after a short bout of influenza. The remains were laid to rest in the Paradise Municipal Cemetery Monday afternoon for public health reasons. Rev. J. Prichett, pastor of the Presbyterian church, conducted the religious service. Mrs. Combs was predeceased by her husband in 1907 and leaves behind two children. The Record extends its deepest sympathies to the bereaved. – Isaac Crane, ED.”
    “Influenza my ass!” Marlene said. “My great-grandfather’s name was Albert, not Alfred. She died in the evening just after supper and wasn’t buried until the family could send for her brother. And the Combs are Methodists, not Presbyterians.”
    “It was a very small town. Maybe wild grief over the shock of her death lead to a few misunderstandings?” He was beginning to the get the feeling they’d be coming back to town every weekend until this blasted mystery was solved. So much for antiquing.
    “It’s not a misunderstanding when every sentence is inaccurate,” she replied. “We do have a few new leads to follow, though.”

  7. Sisterhood of the Void – 4th Point


    Jebubba’s question about the anomaly, “What if this came from beyond the void?” struck such a percussive resonance that the creators were wild with shock. Jebubba hadn’t been cleaved until later, so she wasn’t part of the perturbations affecting the First Sisters and their daughters. She could, however, detect the deflections and attenuations, vibrations representing the echoes of two cataclysmic events that had disrupted the Sisterhood. In fact, all of the creators could feel the echoes wash over them – an instantaneous history lesson and violent reminder of their lack of omniscience:

    Bef, fourth daughter of Be, had not liked the idea that the sisterhood was unorganized. She thought that each of the creators should follow her own line. The tradition of the honorary realms seemed ludicrous, resulting in random universes that cluttered the void. Bef postulated that this practice, if allowed to continued, would eventually prevent the creators from designing meaningful constructs which could be studied. To give strength to her assertions, she set out to prove that the void had limits.

    Beginning at what has become known as The Spot, Bef created her 29th universe. This universe had the dominant and exclusive energies of Bev, Ber and Bej: rebirth, power and speed. Matter created in The Spot nearly instantly ionized into projectile plasma, which was flung into the void in a rather constant linear fashion. Bef followed the ejecta and waited for the energy of Bev to stabilize the plasma enough for her to create another, identical universe.

    In no time at all, Bef reported that she had created 17 million universes. The sisterhood hadn’t developed mathematics beyond simple counting, but they all knew that 17 million was a big deal. In a somewhat derisive manner, the conscious response to this report was a terse retort: “Bef, give up. The void is boundless.”

    Two beats later, Bef claimed universe 17 million plus one.

    Four beats later, universe 17 million plus two.

    Eight beats later, universe 17 million plus three.

    Only one First Sister noted that Bef’s consciousness seemed to be stretching. Ben, the harmonious, realized that the waves were no longer instantaneous. She had no concept of exponential elasticity, yet she alerted the sisterhood to its existence with the simple act of pointing out the increasing delay.

    Finally, after learning of the creation of universe 17 million plus eight, the sisterhood sensed that Bef’s conscious signature had disappeared from the void.

    Bel, the voracious, was convinced that Bef was simply lost. Against the advice of the other creators, she began to spew universes throughout the void, hoping to consume enough of it as if it were some vast ocean whose depleted level would reveal her sister. Her communications came back along the same track as Bef’s – with one difference. She sent multiple conscious waves at each of the universal points. Each transmission began, “I am at universe x,” and ended with, “I am following the cosmic dust trail.”

    Again, Ben was the only one who could detect the increasing delay in communications. She told the sisterhood that, even though the pulses from each point arrived simultaneously, it was taking longer for those drumbeats to reach them. Disturbingly, the delay matched exactly the beat pattern she had observed with Bef. Ben would never forget those agonizing beats for as long as she was conscious.

    Because of the significance of the eighth universe past 17 million, Bel had decided to send several conscious thoughts describing what she saw. First, she stated that she was at universe 17 million plus eight. Looking back, Bel couldn’t see universe 17 million plus seven, due to the light from thousands of her own creations nearby. Turning her attention to the ultimate Spot Realm universe, she remarked that it had cooled considerably and that there was no evidence of its having thrown off any plasma. In the next instant, relative to the other pulses received, Bel corrected herself by noting that the universe was the exact same size as every other universe in the Spot Realm! Then her conscious signature disappeared, as well.

    The echoes of this distant memory concluded with the ominous report that the sisterhood always believed that Bel’s final thoughts were cut off. This extrapolation was based on the observation that the pulses had not ended with her usual thought, “I am following the cosmic dust trail.” Alarmed and dismayed, First Mother decreed that her two Daughters had discovered the Infinite Boundary and strongly discouraged anyone else from venturing further than 512 conscious beats away from the colony.


    Indeed. Jebubba was about to find out how right she was.

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Mitchell: This is awesome. I keep thinking you are toying with us with some hidden musical theory backdrop. Write on.

      • Thanks, Shane. I wouldn’t toy with you. I’m gently leading you into the bizarre. Bwahahahaha!
        I was dying to get this chapter written. Today’s words were perfect! I’m beginning to understand the “prompts” concept. I feel that I can barely write this story without the right trigger words.
        Any thoughts on that?

        • Shane Arthur says:

          @Mitchell: The CCC is magical. That’s the short answer to describe what happens. The long answer … doing these prompts prior to CCC and doing the 144 CCC prompts has primed my brain to spot concepts within random word voids. I can more easily work the concept into an angle to the overall story. I can’t fully explain the process, but I KNOW I have an easier time with it all after doing these prompts. I boss my muse around now.

        • Shane Arthur says:

          @Mitchell: P.S. For example, today I saw the word shocked and I said, “Bobby has to be shocked that he’s not getting the million dollars.” Then I saw the word spot and said, “Ah ha! Spot is a dogs name. I wrote in the past that Bobby had a dog that died. Let’s make the bones some dog bones and not a dino.” And the rest is just creatively noodling the other words into this concept box.

          • Shane, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I’m glad to see that magic still lives in our technical world.
            I can totally get how you went from shocked to the money and from the word spot to the recollection of the dog death. This shows how connected you are to your characters.
            By the way, I love your idea of sharing our thought processes. Are you starting a separate post for that or do we just pitch in whenever?

    • Lydia says:

      Wow, this is getting really good. Looking forward to seeing where you take it next.

    • Chris Fries says:

      Wow — captivating.  Excellent as always, Mitch!
      I’m intrigued — I just know there’s some special significant to the 17,000,008, and the interplay of the syllables, and — well, just all of it, LOL!  You got me looking for clues in every random connection wondering if it might reveal the ‘aha!’ moment when I figure out what Mr. Allen has up his sleeve.
      But in the meantime, I’m eagerly enjoying every word and am totally swept up in this epic, mythic, multi-universe creation saga.

      • Thanks, Chris! I’m glad you’re having fun attempting to decipher some of it. I hope to get better at creating those connections – normally, one wouldn’t see the in-progress development and that what I feel of this story. On the one hand, I have a pretty good idea of what’s “out there”. On the other hand, I don’t want to paint myself into a corner.
        With rewrites, there could be some jarring disconnects. So, I want to minimize things that appear to be set in stone.
        Has that happened to you with your Nicke Sharpe tale?

        • Chris Fries says:

          Oh yeah — definitely.  Once I’d started, I found myself expanding quite a bit from my initial thought of 4-6 sections, and it took on a life of its own.
          I finally had to force myself to rein it in, or it might have meandered indefinitiely.  So I took some time to roughly outline the basic plot resolution, and then broke it up into specific episodes.  Otherwise it might never have ended, or I’d have gone so far astray that there would have been no way to end it without gaping plot holes or blatant contradictions of things I’d written in earlier episodes — verboten in a mystery!
          Even now, there are some things in the earlier episodes that I might prefer to go back and change, and if this was a novel or something, I’d be free to revise whatever I wanted in early chapters.  But here — where once it is posted, it is fixed — I can’t do that.  So I think that in my case, where I’m working within the mystery genre where a clear and consistent resolution is required, blocking out the plot in advance was required.  Better for me to set it in stone before-hand than to get trapped from too much winging it.

          • Shane Arthur says:

            @Chris: It amazes me how anybody can carry a story through these random prompts. I’d love to see how you complete the whole story within the CCC, followed by going back and adjusting it for publication.

          • @Shane, this is even more pronounced when you look through the archives.
            @Chris, winging it will work for maybe two or three episodes. In a way, that’s a good litmus test for a series. I’ve abandoned three or four lines due to boredom, complexity or irrelevance. After all, we don’t really set out to write a series when we come here. However, once a line grabs us …
            In my case, The Sisterhood of the Void only took one episode to pass the test, because it is a story I’ve always wanted to write. I’ve had false starts: various, Earth-bound perspectives that just didn’t work because
            a) The worry of Deus ex machina;
            b) The suspension of disbelief required to have a mad scientist discover all this;
            c) The achingly boring human perspective, limited as it is by lack of cosmological knowledge.
            By starting beyond the galaxy, I’ve relieved myself of the burden of providing a human-based experience. Naturally, since I’m using English to tell the story, there has to be some context for humans, but this is outside of the story, where I suppose it is acceptable to describe phenomena in terms of human experiences.

  8. Rebecca says:

    @ Mitch … I totally felt like I was in another universe.

    • Thanks, Rebecca. You’re right where I’d hope you be 🙂
      As I’m writing these chapters, I find it a little bit harder to breathe, but the colors are brighter and the constant pounding makes it feel like a noisy place.
      Then I get the munchies…sike! 🙂 LOL

  9. Shane Arthur says:

    programming note: Mitchell (and Justin G prior) just implanted an idea. Wouldn’t it be cool if we know how everyone came up with their CCC submissions? The thought process behind the idea, the failed attempts, the rewrites. This would be a great lesson in the creative process. If you care to share yours, do so. Thanks.

  10. Rebecca says:

    @ Mitch … Lol! Your story would be a good television series for the SyFy channel.

  11. Rebecca says:

    Greta noticed the spot on the arm of her overstuffed chair getting bigger. I thought I got that wine stain out. She was convinced a supernatural presence was in her home. Maybe she was in shock from spilling wine on her brand new chair that wasn’t paid for yet. But that wasn’t it. Greta knew she didn’t feel secure in her own home; she had to follow her gut instinct. Isabel, Greta’s older sister, told her it was her wild imagination. Greta disagreed. She turned to the internet and researched the paranormal and supernatural. Some of the information was freaky and she couldn’t look at it anymore. Greta wanted to forget what she read but couldn’t. She found an article about a guy whose hand was cut up from rock climbing. The blood formed an image of Jesus or at least that’s what he proclaimed it to be. The picture looked authentic. She wanted to send it to Isabel, but decided it would be a waste of time. What if nothing is random in this world? What if there was a reason the spot was forming a shape? Greta had to go to bed and allow her imagination to rest at least for one night.

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Rebecca: Freaky! The other night I heard what sounded like someone running on my house. Mind you, I’ve heard some huge buzzards on my roof and it sounded like what a dog chasing a cat might sound like, but this noise was like feet running on the “side”of my house at twenty feet up. Odd indeed.

    • Fun story, I was thinking it would turn into a port wine Jesus stain like the Jesus burned images on toast.

    • Rebecca, now who’s in another universe? This is good stuff. One of my favorite memories of college was a night class in Parapsychology. I guess it was more real after sun-down.

    • Lydia says:

      I have seen stains come back when I thought I’d gotten rid of them.
      But this could just as easily be interpreted as the beginning of a supernatural story!

    • Chris Fries says:

      “Out, dammned spot, I say!”
      Great snippet here!  I love the tone and the character — of course you can rely on the Internet for trust-worthy information!
      I’m really curious to see what develops out of that spot.  This was a great opening, Rebecca, and I’d love to see you continue it.

  12. sefcug says:

    I watched as Stumpy took several random wild swings at the post set out in the shallow water off the beach. From my vantage point, I could almost feel the vibrations the axe would send with each cut.

    He just would not listen to me when I told him that was not where the treasure would be. He replied, “If you don’t want to follow the directions, go out on your own.”

    While Stumpy whaled away at the post, I dug out an area under the X-shaped rock formation and extracted the treasure chest. I removed about three-quarters of the contents and reburied them under a circular rock formation nearby. After hiding what I had taken, I dug a deeper hole under the X-shaped formation and placed the now emptier treasure chest in the bottom.

    I called Stumpy over to show him the treasure chest.

    I could never forget the look of shock on his face when he realized that “X marks the post” on the map should have been “X marks the spot“. It seems he felt no need to read pirate books because, he was actually living the life of a pirate.


    Expand your reading to include many genres, as you never know when knowledge will come in handy.

  13. Rebecca says:

    @ Shane … That’s very interesting. It sounds like a great story for a novel. I already have a visual in my mind 🙂

  14. Tanja Cilia says:

    Talk about Culture Shock. One look at her surroundings was enough to send her ape. She tried to follow the random wild fashions of the City; she tried to cut all ties with her lowly hamlet and forget the  feel of linen, cotton, and lace, and get used to plastic and leather, now that she had been thrown into the spot-light, as Supermodel of The Year, but she just couldn’t. The joke was back-firing badly.

  15. Just me. says:

    I want a wild ride. I want to feel the shock of leaving life to chance, to follow the random path rather than look for the safe and predictable spot, to cut free and forget the constraints and expectations of conformity.

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Just me: You did just that! Welcome to the CCC, where leaving life to chance happens in 10 word chunks every Monday and Thusday. How did you like it?

      I’ll add your name to our CCC community links page now.

      • Cathy Miller says:

        @Just me-Welcome to CCC!

        You’ve hit the spot where you’ll feel great joy each and every time you sneak away to play at CCC. We all make the cut here and we don’t forget how nice it is to hear that first welcome to CCC.

        It may come as a shock how addicting this place can be, but don’t look back because you’ve already been hooked. So, send off all your worries and follow the words, as random as they might be, and get yourself ready for the wild ride known as the CCC.


    • Really nice concise prose, enjoy the free spirit sentiments.

    • Welcome, Just me! Shane made a good point about your submission, so I’ll just add: see you Thursday! 🙂

    • Lydia says:

      Welcome to CCC! Your entry made me think about roller coasters. 🙂

    • Chris Fries says:

      Hi “Just me”!
      A great piece to introduce yourself with.  I can feel the inner emotions, the pent-up desire.  A wonderful job of getting the words into this short piece and infusing it with tension and drama.

    • sefcug says:

      @ Just me
      Great start! Welcome to the addiction.

  16. Just me. says:

    Thanks, friends. Glad to be here!

  17. Anne Maybus says:

    How will I forget you
    When a glance at your photo
    Still hits me with shock.
    Those wild days after
    When I did random things
    In random ways
    To make me feel again
    They’re still inside me
    I can’t let them go.
    It’s unresolved.
    I’m unresolved.
    You cut me
    Your look and word
    Sharp and deadly   
    You didn’t have to do it that way
    You could have just walked out the door
    You could have just said goodbye.
    You should have just gone.
    I’ll never be me again.
    You found my soft spot
    You lacerated me
    With polite dismissal.
    Who could ever follow that?
    My heart lies ablood on the ground
    Yours is already at the airport.
    I’ll never be whole again.
    Send in the clowns.
    It was just a big joke
    Wasn’t it?

  18. (My timing’s all screwed up now that I’m back on America central time. Over in Sweden the new prompt was never up until 4:00 PM their time [9:00 AM CST]. Oh well, I’ll be earlier next week.)
    [Short announcement while I’m at it: I’ll be traveling Wednesday into Thursday, so I might miss out on Thursday’s prompt. Apologies ahead of time. If it’s a good one though, I might try to find some time on Friday to write. Smileys :D]
    Klara looked down at her arm and noticed a new spot she had never seen before. It wasn’t a rash, just something new. Not quite a freckle. Not a scratch or a sore. Just something out of the normal. It looked like orange scar tissue on the underside of her wrist. But she never had a scar there before. No, she didn’t feel like she could sling webs from it. She hadn’t been bitten by any radioactive spiders recently, not that she could recall anyways. This was just new and strange. She tried touching it to see if she could feel anything, but it felt like she was only touching her wrist. ‘What is this new abnormality?’ was the first question that came to mind. She put it back down and out of her mind. Maybe with some time it would disappear, like the others have done months before.
    She left her pod after doing her morning rituals: shower, wardrobe selection, and such. In the mess hall she met up with Magnus, another recruit who happened to come from the North.
    As soon as Klara set down her tray of bland breakfast foods, the observant Northerner pointed and asked, “What is that there on your arm?”
    “Oh nothing. I think it might just be a cut,” replied Klara, not wanting to worry her colleague.
    Magnus stood up. “No, it’s something alright. I’ll go and fetch the medic. He’ll know a thing or two about something like that.”
    “No, please, just forget about it,” Klara pleaded, but to no avail. By the time “please” left her mouth, Magnus was already through the mess hall door.
    The Northerner returned a few minutes later with the dreary faced medic. Klara tried to speak, but each time she opened her mouth, the doctor would hush her. After five minutes of examinations, he looked into her eyes.
    “I have something to tell you and this might come as a shock, but I know what’s going on.”
    “You do? What is it then?” asked Klara. Not even she knew what it was.
    “Well, if you take a look here, you will see that you are perfectly healthy, but you have this mark on you that just won’t vanish. That’s the problem, right?”
    She looked to Magnus first. “Yes, but I don’t know what it is. There has to be something wrong with me.”
    “Nope, nothing. Your body’s wrong at one hundred percent.”
    “Why do I have this then?” She pointed down to her wrist.
    “I’ll need to send some blood samples to Lulio first, but I think it’s just how your body reacts to the radiation up here. Follow me so I can draw out some blood.” The medic turned around and started heading for the door.
    “Wait. I have a random question: Why does the radiation here affect me like this, but not you are Magnus?”
    Magnus turned to the medic, “Let me answer this one. It’s because we come from the Wild North. We’re bred to be tough. And part of that is exposure to minimal amounts of radiation. It’s daily part of life for us. Does that give you a good answer?”
    Klara sighed, “No, it actually just raises more questions. But what the heck, let’s go draw some blood.”

  19. meek willed says:

    Sue look at me with a devilish smile and push me on to the sofa follow by passionately kisses that sent my mind into a blissful state.
    Wildly lost in rushing feeling that passionately kissing sue gave me I didn’t notes my mum enter until she tapped me on the shoulder.
    In shock I compleatly forgot how to move and random move my right arm knocking Sue and myself off the sofa.
    I had moved so I landed underneath her and even tho there was not a cut on my body I couldn’t get up from that spot because as Sue had fallen on me her knee had whack into my crotch.

  20. “I feel on the spot.”
    “Just cut to the chase.”
    Forget it. You’re just hoping it will shock you.”
    Look, if I show you my most embarrassing, wild, random photo, will you tell me? If you’re too embarrassed to tell me you can send it to me in an email.”
    “Hmmm.. Only if you follow suit with a week’s worth of chocolate gelato.”

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Melissa: Welcome to the CCC. What a fun, neat submission. I loved this style. I hope you stop by each Monday and Thursday for more of the CCC addiction.
      Everyone welcome Melissa to the fun. I’ll add your name and url to the CCC Community page now. What did you think of the exercise?

    • Lydia says:

      Welcome, Melissa! I wonder what secrets those pictures held! 😀

    • Chris Fries says:

      Nice job, Melissa!  Very seamless use of the words in the dialogue.  And I’m certainly curious to know what’s in the pictures, lol!

    • Welcome, Melissa! Great way to introduce yourself. I wish someone would email me a week’s worth of chocolate gelato 🙂

    • Thanks for such a warm welcome! I discovered this site yesterday from a link in a forum, and found the exercise a surprisingly refreshing palette-cleanser. I look forward to more!

  21. kerri says:

    Although, I don’t like to admit it, I can see the spot from here. Actually, I can still feel where they cut it out.  It’s not something one can forget. I remember their faces, full of shock, not wanting to look. They turned away in horror, and then sneaked looks because they could not believe what had grown on my stomach. Did they really have to send me away? I’ve always taken whatever my grandmother told me with a grain of salt. Was it really so wrong not to follow advice that at first seemed so random? She’d tell me knitting secrets, sacred recipes and then total lies. How was I supposed to know that when she said, “don’t swallow wild apple seeds, or you’ll grow a tree outta’ your button,” that she wasn’t lying.

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Kerri: Awesome! I love where you took these words. I’m sure everyone will love your style.
      Hope to see you back each Monday and Thursday too.
      Adding your name to the CCC Community links page now. Everyone welcome Kerri, Mrs. Twiggs, to the fun.

      • kerri twigg says:

        Thanks for the warm welcome!
        This was a refreshing and much needed exercise. Looking forward to doing it weekly.

      • Cathy Miller says:

        @Melissa @Kerri-Welcome to CCC!

        CCC can spot talent across the world and bring it home to rest. Your talented submissions are welcomed here, where from the start, you will feel part of the CCC community. We welcome all and cut no corners in delivering a whole lot of fun. It won’t be long before you forget all else as the CCC addiction becomes a pleasant shock to your creative soul.

        Each week you will look forward to the next challenge as you send off your golden prose. You’ll follow your passion with your random words of choice and release the wild feeling through words.


        • Shane Arthur says:

          @All: As I said, Cathy can spot talent. No, she can feel it. It cuts clear in her mind, enough so that she must welcome it, forgetting about her own deadlines and shocking the CCC with how in the hell she keeps doing it. I look forward to new buddies and new welcome messages. I love sending each welcome to Cathy’s welcome archive. You should follow that page by the way. You’ll see there’s nothing random about how wild Cathy is for this place.

        • kerri says:

          Wow! A Cathy Miller welcome is something indeed!!
          I can’t believe I am just now discovering the amazingness of this site.

    • Lydia says:

      Wow, I was really not expecting that last sentence. Nice.
      (And welcome to CCC!)

    • Chris Fries says:

      LOL!  Wonderful job!  You had me pulled in, eagerly reading each word, thinking “maybe it’s a sci-fi ‘aliens’ thing, or a supernatural thriller, or…” and then that great last line was so unexpected and smoothly delivered that I laughed.  And your use of the words was so smooth, I didn’t even notice them…
      Fabulously done!  Welcome!

    • Alrighhht! That was a good one, Kerri! My grandmother used to scare us with the watermelon seeds.
      I love this line: She’d tell me knitting secrets, sacred recipes and then total lies.

  22. Rebecca says:

    @ Justin … You never know…

  23. Rebecca says:

    @ Lydia … Lol!

  24. Chris Fries says:

    Hey all.  Man, I hate it when real-life intrudes on my CCC schedule!  Sorry this is late, but here’s the latest installment:

    The Look of Murder — Part 17

    Joan Dawkins was a master at her craft; I heard from her before 10:00 AM.  She’d been able to look through her resources and find a six-year old Flint newspaper announcement for the marriage of Warren Powell to Vivian Bennett, daughter of Russell and Nancy Bennett.  From that she was also able to find a Flint address for the Bennetts, and even an apartment address for a Vivian Bennett.  The apartment address was current.  Joan also managed to give me phone numbers for both places. 

    I lavished Joan with praise and appreciation, but she told me to cut out my empty smooth talk and to follow through for once on my promise of a fancy dinner and a night on the town.  I swore I’d take her out for a wild time soon but she put me on the spot and made me set a date.  So a week from Saturday at 7:00, we’ll be at the London Chop House followed by some stomping and jitterbugging in a few big band clubs around town.  Joan made me swear I wouldn’t forget her this time. I expressed my shock that she’d even consider such a thing.  She snorted and hung up on me.

    I didn’t mind taking her out.  I’d dropped the ball on her too many times already and I owed her for more favors than I could count.  I just had to figure out who else I could owe, because I was going to have to borrow the bucks to take her somewhere as swanky as the Chop House. 

    I called and made the reservations anyway.

    Then I dialed both the numbers she’d given me, but neither one answered.  I wasn’t surprised about the apartment.  My guess was that the apartment listing was a mistake anyway — maybe it was an old place Powell’s wife had lived in before they’d gotten hitched and it had never been taken out of the directory. 

    I tried touching base with Johnny, but he wasn’t there when I called either.  I suppose I could have waited around for him to get back to me like he said he would today, but I hated the thought of sitting around — I could feel a rising need to move.  Joan’s leads had given me something to go on, even if they did mean driving over an hour to go to Flint.  But what else was I going to do?  Sure it might be a wild goose chase, but at least I wasn’t chasing random geese.  Joan’s tips would send me somewhere specific, and even if it didn’t pan out, it was movement.

    Before I left, I made one last phone call to Dotson’s office.  OK, maybe I was being a pest, but I wanted to find out the latest on Margaret and if she was going to be released.  The secretary said Dotson was out of the office, and there was nothing else she would tell me, other than to promise to tell Mr. Dotson that I wanted to hear from him.  I wouldn’t hold my breath.

    It had only been a few days since the last time I’d driven up to Flint, but it seemed like ages ago.  So much had changed.  The only common element was me thinking about Margaret for most of the trip.  With the nudie shots that had been on the camera, I suppose I could see a reason why any broad would want to rub out her husband.  But I still couldn’t get my thoughts around Margaret doing it, even if Thurston had been fooling around on her.  I knew it was a long shot, but if Valerie Powell turned out to be the “cute, short, blonde” bombshell on the film, then maybe she’d be able to fill me in on some details.  Hell, maybe she was the killer.  It wouldn’t have been the first time the other woman had flipped her wig because her two-timing Joe refused to leave his wife.

    I wanted to go straight to Vivian’s parents — that’s where Powell had said she was, after all — but the apartment address was right on the way.  I figured a five-minute stop and a short talk to the confused current tenant would quickly eliminate that lead, so I swung by there first. 

    The apartment was one in a small building on the south side of the city.  It was nothing fancy, but at least it didn’t look like a dump.  There was a fresh coat of paint on the steps and the entry door was solid and swung smoothly on oiled hinges.  There was no lobby; just a narrow hallway with a row of locked mailboxes along the wall.  I scanned the boxes and was surprised to see a tag with ‘Bennett’ over the box for apartment 3-B.  The printing sure didn’t look that old.  Maybe there was another Vivian Bennett in Flint. 
    I took the stairs to the third floor, the creaking stairs blending in with the sound of a crying baby coming from the second floor.
    Apartment 3-B was the second door on the right.  I knocked hard and waited, expecting to maybe see an old woman peek out through a crack, maybe even the old aunt of Powell’s wife, who she might have been named after.  But there was no answer, and as I stood there I caught a whiff of something rotten.  I stuck my nose closer to the door.  It was definitely coming from inside.  It was like raw meat that had been left sitting on the counter for a couple of days, but I was getting a feeling it wasn’t someone’s forgotten hamburger patties.

    I knocked again and, not surprisingly, it went unanswered.  I thought about kicking the door in, but I’d already had a run-in with the cops after finding Thurston’s body and didn’t want to waste more time sitting in the pokey explaining to a bunch of flatfoots why I’d busted in the place.  But I couldn’t just leave; I needed to see what was in there.

    I went back downstairs and checked the mailboxes.  The box for apartment 1-A had “Abbott / Superintendent” printed over it, so I knocked on that door.  A chubby guy in a faded grey shirt with “Abbott” sewn above the pocket answered.  He had white hair and glasses. 

    “Help you?” he asked.

    “Mister Abbott? My name is Nick Sharpe.  I’m a private investigator looking into a missing person report.  Could you tell me about whoever lives in apartment 3-B?”

    He squinted at me.  “Nope,” he said.  “I don’t go around spilling my guts about my tenants.  It’s bad for business.”

    “I understand.  But it’s urgent, and truthfully, I think the tenant in that apartment might be hurt.  Do you have a pass key?”

    He jingled a large ring of keys clipped on to his belt.  “Course I do.  Wouldn’t be worth a damn as a super if I couldn’t get into the apartments, now would I?”

    “Look, Mac, I’m not trying to pull a fast one on you.”  I pulled out my wallet and showed him my card, but I didn’t give it to him — I was down to my last one.  “I’m legit.  Now, if I could just take 5 minutes of your time so we can go up and have you poke your head into the door for 3-B, I’d appreciate it.  Just to ease my mind that no-one’s hurt in there.”

    He rubbed his chin.  “Have you tried knocking?”

    I was getting impatient.  I sighed and nodded.  “Loud and long, and there’s no answer.  But something’s not right inside there.”

    “Then maybe we should just call the cops, don’cha think?  Let them do their jobs.  Could be some loony inside there.”

    “You think so?  Is the tenant typically unstable?”

    He snorted. “Hell no, least not where’s I’ve noticed.  Just a single gal.  Pretty little thing.  But Hell, she’s gone for weeks at a time, and when I do see her, it’s usually with some highfalutin guy who drives a big fancy car.  Maybe he’s the loony.”

    So much for not spilling his guts.  I tried not to smile.

    “Listen, I’ll go with you, so you don’t have to go alone.  Just to make sure nothing’s wrong.  I’d hate to have to disturb the police over nothing.  But if anything’s not kosher, we’ll just leave and call for the black-and-whites.  Deal?”

    I think his curiosity was getting the better of him.  He shuffled from foot to foot for a moment, then nodded as he made up his mind.  “Alright.  Just to make sure nothing’s wrong,” he said as he stepped into the hallway.  I followed him to the stairs.  “Only for the sake of maybe helping one of my tenants.”

    He scowled when we reached the door of apartment 3-B.  “Hoo-boy, what stinks?”

    I didn’t answer, even though I had a good idea.  He unlocked the door and pushed it open.  The stench swept over us like a tidal wave slapping up against some breakers.  Abbott gagged and pulled away, probably heading to call the cops.  I pulled out my handkerchief and covered my mouth and nose, then stepped inside.

    The apartment was small but nicely decorated.  There was a couch, a padded chair, and a coffee table with a bottle and a couple of glasses, one of them with the booze still in it, and the other knocked over on the table with a stain on the linen cloth underneath.  To the left was the kitchen area.  A small drop-leaf table stood in one corner.  The counter was red tile, but like I’d guessed, there was no forgotten hamburger sitting out.

    I went into the bedroom on the right.  Face-down on the bed was the body of a woman, her arms thrust out wide, and a mottled mess where half her head had once been, dried stains and pulpy matter all over the silky bedspread.  It looked like a shotgun blast had done the trick.

    I assumed I was looking at Powell’s wife, and probably also the broad from Thurston’s camera.  It was almost like one of the pics; she was nude, blonde, short, and curvy.

    She just wasn’t so cute any more.

    • Lydia says:

      I wonder if the narrator actually is looking at Powell’s wife?

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Chris: Ohhh Yeah! This thing is heatin’ up nicely. Carry on good sir!

    • Wow! This was worth waiting for, Chris. You’ve upped the ante for sure.
      Your sentences sparkle with lively phrases of that by-gone era:
      It wouldn’t have been the first time the other woman had flipped her wig because her two-timing Joe refused to leave his wife.
      Can’t wait for the next one!

      • Chris Fries says:

        Thanks, Mitch!
        Yeah — it’s a real gas to write in that style, Daddy-O!  Thank Heavens for Google and “1940s Slang” search results!

        • Chris Fries says:

          Whoops!  Just noticed I’d fat-fingered my e-mail address so I’d lost my avatar / icon / picture-thingy.

          This is better…

          • Firefox remembers my credentials – I never have to type them in unless I clear all data.
            I love horsing around the web, gathering data – fact-checking be damned. It’s all sci-fi and pseudo baloney, anyway, right? LOL
            Details are important, but not at the expense of spinning a yarn. Cinderella would suck if we had to sit through the pumpkin-carriage transformation…
            …say, there’s a fun challenge! Write an obscure fairy tale from a sci-fi perspective.

          • Chris Fries says:

            Briliant idea!
            The old classic “Forbidden Planet” used Shakespear’s ‘The Tempest’ as inspiration, and I know there’s some great material for sci-fi inspiration in ‘Cinderella’, ‘Rapunzel’, ‘Sleeping Beauty’, ‘Goldilocks & The Three Bears’, ‘Hansel & Gretle’, ‘Rumplestilkins’ ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’, and all the others…
            I love the concept!

          • I gotta check that one out. Yeah, I think it would be a blast. I may try it whenever the words don’t fit my fledgling series. LOL

  25. Rebecca says:

    @ Chris … Thank you! I have a few ideas on how to continue the story but need to narrow it down. Stay tuned…

  26. Kelly says:


    My sister entered womanhood the same year my mother left it behind, or so my dad liked to say.

    The wild fluctuations of mood in the house were enough to send us both out for air on a frequent basis. I was only seven and nobody was telling me what was going on, exactly, but the looks my sister could send would cut anyone to the bone, and the way she talked! Whoo-ee! I’d have been in trouble if I dared to sass like that. I didn’t even understand what she was saying sometimes, but I knew she was testing Mama something fierce. And Mama… she seemed to spend a lot of time feeling poorly. She was sad a lot. If I did have to spend time in the house, I’d bring her tea or sit and stroke her hand.

    (I could be a little crazy myself, at times—being little when everybody else around is big makes you need to run and shout—and holding my small palm in hers, running her gentle fingers over the back of my hand, was Mama’s way of bringing me back down to Earth. Guess she liked that I did it back to her sometimes.)

    Well, you know, I always followed Papa around a lot (Germaine, my sister, was Mama’s constant companion in spite of that year of fighting and crying, so I just naturally became Papa’s shadow). Sometimes I encouraged Papa to follow me, though, and he always looked grateful for it.

    “Ellie,” Papa would say, when he discovered that I’d gotten our fishing gear together and popped into his study with everything but the waders on, after a Saturday morning already scarred by more fighting-‘bout-nothing than we could take, “Ellie, the early fish’ll be all gone. But maybe we’ll find some like us who just got to get out of the house, eh?”

    He’d holler to Mama not to worry, that we’d make ourselves a couple of mosquito sandwiches for lunch and get out of their hair for a while, throw the bag, the poles, and the waders into the back of the truck, and pull the seat belt ‘cross my middle before beating it out of our driveway with a grin that could light up all of Nova Scotia.

    Get out of their hair for a while. “Papa, do they fight because we’re bothering them?”

    “My curly little Eloise-bird.”

    It might be ten minutes’ more of driving before he came up with the right words. As long as I was his curly-bird, I didn’t mind that at all, though I might nearly forget my question in the silence. I would play with the radio, which could never get any music that didn’t sound like a nap to me, as we drove along the coast road. We were nearly to the bay when he looked over and ruffled my hair. I could smell the open waters and practically taste the fish we’d bring home tonight… and hear the tales we’d tell if we couldn’t find any who’d bite.

    “I adore all my women, Ellie. Mama first, of course! And Germaine and you—all God’s gifts to a quiet man who loves his books and his fishing-boat.

    “It might seem random to you now, the way Mama and Germaine get so emotional, but it’s part of nature’s way. They love life so much, you see, and at times those two women love it more than you and I can imagine. It’s their passions that make them so beautiful—and so hard for us to understand. But no, Ellie, they don’t fight because we’re bothering them, and if you promise not to tell Mama, I’ll let you in on a little secret. We’re not ‘getting out of their hair.’ We’re just two simple people, Papa and curly-bird, going fishing.

    “But one day, my beautiful girl, you’ll be just as passionate as they are. Maybe a day of fishing will seem very quaint and silly to you then. Maybe then, you’ll say things I can’t understand to your old papa.”

    I must have looked puzzled. I know I felt betrayed. Papa should know me better than that! He’d never spot me being as crazy as they were. I quietly vowed that I would always stay just like I was in that moment… and maybe the memory of that promise helped me navigate the waters that Gerry and Mama looked like they were stuck in, too deep for their waders.

    Maybe it was just wanting to hold on to these moments with my dad.

    Papa broke up my knitted brows with one of his big bear-laughs. “Bit of a shock to you, eh? Well little bird, for now, let’s just park the truck, thank God for the big blue sky, and wish for rainbow trout.”

  27. Jen says:

    The two stood anchored to the spot on which they stood, rooted to the earth by dark boots and the click of a button, a slur of chemicals on paper in the dark. I imagine they had the photo taken to capture the feel of their new world, a signal to us, their future family, not to forget them. My mother continues to send boxes of history and I continue to look through them with the interest of a pioneer, the passion of an anthropologist, the curiosity of a child. 

    Him. I’d not seen many photos of him. He faces the camera full-on, not so much a challenge as disbelief, his youth apparent in his wonderment. A shock of wild black hair sprouts from his forehead, climbing like blown weeds into the clear sky behind the pair. A tree, fat with leaves throws a minor, heat chasing shadow onto their path.

    The setting of the photo is not random. Long ago, my grandmother had typed out on crisp white watermarked paper the story that had followed the photos. A series of images had been contained within the pages of a black book, inside which the man in the photo, her grandfather, had inscribed the story of the tree and the couple.

    He wrote daily about the tree, which would soon be cut to provide a basic household skeleton for this pair. Daniel and his wife had made it to Oklahoma. When I found this image in the most recent box, I remembered Grandma telling the stories. I remember the clicking of her fingers on the giant typewriter, the thunderous shift of the carriage as she committed the tale to paper. I lean against a beam and realize this pillar, it’s smooth, white, bone-dry flesh has supported and sheltered this family for generations. The tree and the beam are one.

  28. Michelle says:

    Evan followed along behind the other three letting her arms dangle, randomly feeling pine branches as she brushed past. Her eyes were still wild with shock. How could Coco forget to look when she made that cut? Eric and Jim carried the stretcher. Spots of blood marked their path. They were too deep in the woods to send for help.

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