Writing Prompts – Creative Copy Challenge #148

Today we have Writer’s Digest picking the words. Show these excellent folks you know how to rise to a challenge.

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. Piano
  2. Archetype – a model or first form; prototype.
  3. Cocktail
  4. Merlot – a dark-blue grape used in winemaking; wine
  5. Slide
  6. Pinprick
  7. Ribbon
  8. Villain
  9. Scent
  10. Nine

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


137 Comments on “Writing Prompts – Creative Copy Challenge #148”

  1. Shane Arthur says:

    “Billy, I’s as depressed as dat Piano Man Billy Joel always be singin’ ‘bout.”

    “Why’s dat Bobby?”

    “Dat Beuford fella’s the archetype of pinpricks. He’s the villain of all violinists. If oyster-breakin was a sport, he’d a gotten all the blue ribbons. He’s even makin’ his son clean the bathroom with a toothbrush for sassin’ back.”

    “Did you do everything he done toldt you to do?”

    “Yeah, I did the work he showt me how to do, but den he were sayin, “Make me a cocktail,” and, “Bring me some Merlot from isle one,” and, “Slide me some dope, cause I smell the scent on ya.” I done toldt him two or nine times you and me don’t have any to spare.”

    “Billy, you had to be a big shot didn’t you! You had to open up your mouth! You had to have a white hot spotlight! Now we’s gonna have to search for new jobs all right! Oh Oh a whoa whoa oh!”

  2. Anne Wayman says:

    (In memory of my daughter’s flute playing, before she discovered track,)

    She was nine when she first played the piano, or tried – a true archetype of the beginning music student.
    At first her practice was a cocktail of unintended sharps and flats that seemed to slide screeching out of the keyboard. Mom required several glasses of Merlot to avoid becoming the anti-practice villain, the sounds worse than a whole cushion of pinpricks.
    Thank the Goddess for time for when she reached ten, the sound had became a beautiful blue ribbon, seeming to scent the air with joy.

  3. Sylvia Salinas approached the entrance to St. Juliet hospital a few minutes before nine Monday morning.  Her ear buds were set in her ear and no sound outside her mind was penetrating her determination to be pissed off.  She repeated the same Metallica song “Unforgiven” three times now.  Different versions of course, this particular set has a pretty awesome piano solo at the beginning.

    She was lost in thought from events earlier this morning.  She and Carla had a fight before she went to school.  Carla came in late the night before and Sylvia was tired of it.  Carla had two bad semesters in a row at Meadow Brook University and was on scholastic probation, and she promised her mother she would focus more on school.

    Carla always has excuses.  Most of the time it’s some sorority function she has  to attend.  Co-Ed cocktail parties, beach volleyball tournaments, whatever.

    She always makes me out to be the villain.  She’s the one not holding up her responsibility.

    Sylvia just wanted to listen to her music and get on with her day in her lab and just process blood samples all day.  Tonight she’ll escape with her recording of Real Housewives of New Jersey and a bottle of Merlot.

    Everything will blow over and be okay after that.

    The entrance doors slide open when Amber from the Emergency Room rushes through to stop Sylvia.

    What the heck is this chick’s problem?

    Sylvia removes her ear buds.

    “Sylvia, have you seen or heard the news?”

    She had been in her own emotional world all morning.

    “No. Why?”

    “There’s been a shooting, they’re going to be sending all the injured here.  We’re going to need your help in triage.”

    Super.  So much for being alone.

    “No problem.  Let me go put my stuff up and get my sweater.”

    Amber left after plans were made and Sylvia went back to her ear buds.  She would look at other people and see their faces contorted and depressed.  She didn’t know why, and right now she didn’t care.  Her day was ruined now since she can’t sulk with herself.

    I’m a good parent, but she just pisses me off.  Now I have to deal with this.

    She’s been pulled to the ER quite a few times and it can get freezing in there.  She grabs the MBU hoodie that belongs to her daughter and walks the corridors to the emergency room. She pushes open the doors and it’s the worst she’s ever seen.  Dozens and dozens of people were crowding the front desk.  Those who weren’t at the front desk were glued to the television.

    Apparently it’s something huge.

    Sylvia removed her ear buds and focused on the TV news report.

    “…Gutierrez-Galvan live from Meadow Brook University…..”

    What the?!?

    “….where tragedy happened on campus. We understand a lone individual went into a building a little over an hour ago after classes had begun, pulled a fire alarm and started shooting as they filed out of the classes.  Preliminary counts are six wounded, and eight dead.  Including one administrator whose name is yet to be released…


    “… as well as the alleged shooter.  Early reports state it was self inflicted, but according to police on the scene the alleged shooter was killed by a teacher, with one the killer’s own guns.”

    What class does Carla have?Where should she be now?She should be in class.Why hasn’t she called?I told her she needs to get her act together and go to her classes.Even the early Monday ones.Oh crap, what if she was one of the ones wounded or shot?I’m a good mother, I would know if something happened to my baby, right?Was I too hard on her?Should I have let her make her own rules?I didn’t want her to do the same things I did.I only wanted the best.Why hasn’t she called?

    Pregnant at fifteen by a boy who said he’d always be there.  Sylvia was eight months pregnant with Carla when Jesse took off.  He said he wasn’t ready to be a father and took off.  Sylvia was a statistic.  Hispanic Teenager who is pregnant by a boy who is no longer around.  She hated that people looked at her in judgement.  She knew she had to make the best for herself and Carla.

    When she finished high school and then went to vocational school to become a Lab Tech, she wanted to show Carla that it takes hard work to get things and not let society label you a statistic. She was going to be a archetype for the young girls who were like she used to be.


    Sylvia’s concentration was momentarily broken by Vivian who works in the lab as well.

    “Sorry about the pinprick.  We’re making them for the family of the students who go to the school.”

    Sylvia looked down to see a maroon ribbon pinned to her blue scrubs.

    “Why hasn’t she called, Vivian??”

    It was rhetorical, because only God knew why she hadn’t called, but Vivian answered anyways.

    “I’m sure she’s okay, Syl. You need anything?”

    Sylvia shook her head and focused back on the television.  She stopped listening to the reporter, but was focusing on the background images of a parade of stretchers on their way to awaiting ambulances.  She knew which stretchers contained the dead.

    They were the slow moving ones.

    She finally pulled out her cell phone and dialed her daughter’s number.  Not taking her eyes off the live images of the dead parade, she listened to the ringing and then voice mail.

    She dialed again.

    Listening to the ringing and watching the convoy of stretchers she notices one of the paramedics go through something.  Maybe a purse?  Pulls out a phone, opens it and pushes a button.
    Carla’s ringing stops suddenly and goes to voice mail.
    It has to be coincidence.
    She calls again.
    The same ringing.  She eyes the paramedic from before who goes through the purse again.  Looks at the phone.  Opens and puts it to his ear.
    “I’m so very sorry!”
    Sylvia’s eyes roll back and she collapses on the floor.
    Sylvia wakes up in an ER exam room.  The lights are turned down and she tries to focus her thought.
    What the hell just happened?  Was that a dream?  How long was I out? Please let it be a dream.  Carla can not be dead.
    She breathes in through her nose deeply then out her mouth to regain her senses.
    She turns suddenly and Carla is not there.  She could smell Carla.
    Is that weird?  A mother knows the these things right?
    She looks down and she is tightly gripping her daughter’s hoodie.  She brings it to her nose and can smell her daughter’s scent.  She begins to weep.
    She exits the room and sees a group of nurses conversing.  She walks past them and over hears key words.
    “Killer is alive.” “Out of surgery.”
    Sylvia could not believe what she was hearing.  Her daughter was dead and her killer was still alive and in her hospital.
    Not for long.
    She does not understand why she is not a total mess.
    Denial maybe?
    Whatever it was, she was not in control of her actions.  She went into the drug closet where they kept all the medications.  While not a registered nurse, she knew the code to open the cabinet.  One night when a nurse, her friend Lindsay, had to meet her boyfriend she gave Sylvia the code to the medicine cabinet.  Sylvia never got to use the code.
    Until now.
    The code worked perfectly.  She did not know what to get so she pulled out a few syringes marked “Provasic”.  She then closed the cabinet and walked to the room where the shooter was being held.

    There was no heaviness in her step.  No hesitation, no second thoughts.  She knew what had to be done.

    This bastard took everything from me, I have nothing to lose.

    She was amazed how no one paid her any attention.  With all the tightened security and measures being taken right now, no one was even looking at her.  Sylvia was getting closer to the room which held the killer.  A tall police officer was standing next to the door.  She pulled a chart from a nearby room, opened it up and pretended she was working.
    “Good morning, Officer.  I have some medication for the patient the doctor ordered for his pain.”
    “Okay?” Officer Bartlett responded.  “Where’s the other nurse… What’s her name?  Cindy?”
    “She got called to assist in the surgery of one of the other victims.”
    “I don’t know.  They gave orders that only specifically stated personnel are allowed to enter the patient’s room.”
    Sylvia sighed.
    “Okay.  I’ll go find Cynthia, but the doctor is not going appreciate the restrictions on medical care.  Even though this man did what he did.”
    Sylvia saw confusion on the face of Officer Bartlett.  She could tell he was just doing his job, but was struggling with the supposed medical treatment needed.
    “You know.  Don’t worry about it.  Just be quick.  I’ll clear it up later, okay?”
    “You’re a nice man.”
    Bartlett nodded, and when he did, Sylvia took a syringe and plunged it in the side of his neck.  Bartlett grabbed his neck and fell to the floor.  Sylvia looked around to see if anyone saw her.
    No one.
    She dragged him in the room.  When Sylvia stood up. she looked at the bed and the monster sleeping in it.
    He doesn’t look like someone who would cause all this carnage.  Could this be a mistake?  Maybe he was a victim as well and they’re not sure yet.  This has to be a mistake.
    Sylvia stood there staring over the alleged killer’s body, not knowing what to do or how to feel.  Still moments of Carla flashed before her eyes.  The first time she saw her precious little angel, the first day of school.  The trip to New York her sophomore year of high school, and her graduation.  Everything that made Carla special and defined their relationship as mother and daughter.
    The last image she saw was the white sheet covering a stretcher.  She clinched her fists and dug her nails into the palms of her hands.
    The only mistake that was made, was this bastard thinking he can kill her daughter and get away with it.
    Sylvia pulled the curtain around the bed and pulled the killer on the floor.  She slapped him in the face a few times to wake him up.
    I want him to know he is about to die, unlike my Sylvia did.
    The last slap accomplished her goal.  The killer’s eyes opened quickly.
    “Shut up, you!!  You killed my daughter.  Now you will die too you bastard!!!”
    Sylvia bit the tip covering the needle off the syringe and pressed it against his neck.
    A man in a suit rips open the curtain pointing a gun at Sylvia.
    It’s not going to end like this.  They’re going to have to kill me to prevent me from killing this man.
    “Stay back,” Sylvia calls out.  “ I will kill him!!!”

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Eric: I want to see this in a book! Nothing less will do! Well done indeed.

    • Eric, you had me riveted! I love this perspective, where we have all the information but are powerless to do anything more than read. Carla’s mental anguish is hauntingly vivid.

    • Chris Fries says:


      Just kidding!!!! Eric, this was awesome.  You have a fabulous way of bringing out the details of the scenes, and your characterization is extraordinary!  I love the way you developed this, how well the change in PoV meshed with the last post.  The drama and tension and motivation and stakes inside that hospital are high and compelling and perfectly constructed.
      I’d love to see how you’d do this as a graphic novel, but I think you might lose some of the inner character dynamics and cross-Pov stuff you’ve got going.
      Great work!

      • Yeah I realized that as well. My original intention was to get in and get out with this POV.  Then I realized I was only halfway thru my story when I finished the last word.  So I rushed it and felt like i was cheating in doing so.
        But I’m glad you liked it.
        The more I wrote this and introduced characters I wasn’t intentionally planning.. (The Daughter in the dream, the detective partner Art, and Sylvia) I realized it was part of the universe I was creating..  Funny how you kept usin PoV.  My original title for this was going to Random Acts [of Violence].  But last week thought PoV would be better.  Point of Violence

    • Lydia says:

      This was fantastic!

  4. Anne Wayman says:

    yikes! good stuff

  5. Jake says:

    Like he had done so many times before, he realized that he was nothing more than an archetype of his father.  The truth made him wince, like a small pinprick to his inner spirit.  Years of seeing monotony played out day after day, sustained by money, alcohol and the slow death of soul, kept Howard bound to picture of the eventual man he would become.  It was inevitable.

    The scent of production, coffee and Smirnoff wafted up and drifted through his nostrils as he sighed deeply.  “Nine years and I’m still here.  Trapped in this prison that my father created for me.” He thought.  “With great care, he constructed this life for me.  I know I’ve become the villain that I loathed when I was a young man.”  He closed his eyes and tasted another sip of relief.
    Howard never talked about his continuous slide into the abyss.  Many nights at dinner, over a bottle of Merlot, his wife Carol asked him about his day.  But her voice would often fade as he stared off into the distance.  The soft serenading of the piano through his mind was a welcome distraction from the constant roar of the steel mill.  It would grinde on him, like needles through his skull.  If only there was a way out.  If only there was glimmer of hope.  Hope of redemption.
    But any ribbon of hope that was raised within him, would always fade by the cold truth of reality.  Industry continued, the slag heap grew higher and higher, and the constant demands for his soul continued.  As the years slowly passed, he became more entrenched in the life that he hated so much.  The more he resisted, the more he accepted.  “And that’s what this must be all about”, Howard thought to himself.  “Acceptance.”  He pushed the chair back, sat down, breathed another deep sigh and poured another cocktail of salvation.    

  6. Rebecca says:

    Gia heard the hotel’s piano player playing a mellow tune as she walked to the hotel restaurant. She sat down and ordered a Merlot instead of her usual fruity cocktail. She was taking a break from writing her novel. The main character whose archetype was a controlling perfectionist was driving her nuts. She was also having difficulty molding the villain which is why she decided to vacation in the Caribbean. Gia wanted a few weeks to slide out of her writer’s life. She always loved the scent of the ocean. The ribbon around her straw hat was blowing in the breeze. A group of men were talking about getting in a round of golf. The one guy bought a new nine iron and was anxious to try it out. Gia smiled. She didn’t understand the fascination with golf, unless, of course, you played in St. Andrews, Scotland. Their talk about golf was beginning to pinprick Gia. She finished her Merlot, got up, and walked to the restaurant’s balcony.

  7. Rebecca says:

    Oops! I have a ‘faux pas’ in my story. Thanks Shane for it pointing out. That’s why I would love to have an editor and proofreader 🙂

  8. margaret says:

    It was but a pinprick, but then his fangs were rather underdeveloped. Yet the slight ribbon of merlot colored blood was enough to raise a scent into the air which would alert the other nine
    sleeping vampires that it was cocktail hour.

    As his friends began to congregate, He let himself slide onto the piano bench, consummate
    cultured host that he was. After all, what is a good happy hour without a villain who can provide
    musical entertainment as well!

    He sought to model himself after the perfect archetype of bloodsucking suaveness….Mr. Bela Lugosi himself! Perhaps someday he might star in a movie with more sophistication than those current “Twilight” flicks.

  9. Sean says:

    I set swirled the merlot in my goblet, then took a sip and set it on the piano.
    Nope, that wasn’t going to cut it. What I really needed was a cocktail. Or a shot. Gasoline would do.
    It had been a long slide; this slow descent into hell.
    I thought it was a pinprick, but now I’m bathing in the blood of a blue ribbon disaster. My life is a joke – success a vile, villainous vulture, taunting me with its wicked talons and foul scent.
    One more sip… like I’m some archetype pianist drunk.
    I play.
    Nine bars, eight because that’s what’s expected, then one more to echo my misery.

  10. Sean says:

    Ha, thanks man. Miss stopping by. Soon. 🙂

  11. Roger and Katie arrived half an hour late to the black-tie party. There was a woman playing a piano on a raised. The music she played didn’t matter to Roger, though. He couldn’t get his mind off his toy in the closet.
    “That stupid mechanical box,” he thought to himself. “Why did I go through all of the trouble to steal it from NefariCorps? I could have waited several months, but that one…” His box was the archetype. The first of many. And he wanted it all for myself.
    He wanted to get it off his mind. He tugged at Katie’s sleeve. “Hey, I’m going to get a cocktail of some sort. You want anything?”
    “Some Merlot if they have any.”
    “Ok. I’ll be right back,” said Roger as he turned around. He took a step and looked over his shoulder. “Go and mingle with the crowd. You deserve it.” And he was off.
    After ten minutes, with a glass of Merlot in one hand and a rum and cola in the other, Roger found Katie chatting with several colleagues about the project she had been overseeing for the last three month.
    “Everybody, this is Roger. He’s one of the employees on my team. And he’s also the reason why we were late.” She reached for her glass of wine. “But I see he found me some Merlot. That’s forgivable then.”
    Roger waved to everybody and took a sip of his cocktail. Coincidently, that is the same moment his senses began to slide. After a few more sips Roger glanced over his shoulders with a confused look on his face.
    “Hey buddy, what’s going on?” asked one of Katie’s friends.
    He shook the confusion away. “Nothing. Just thought I heard a pinprick from behind me somewhere.”
    “How could you hear that? It’s so loud in here with all of the ruckus from the crowd and music from the piano,” said Katie, who was starting her friend was lapsing again.
    “I really don’t know. I just heard it so I looked.” Roger was getting a little nervous, so he decided to change the topic. “When are they going to cut the ribbon?”
    “In about an hour,” answered Katie’s colleague. “Except I don’t know what they’re doing it for. Last I heard was that the prototype went missing. I still don’t know if they’ve caught the villain.”
    Another colleague jumped in, “I didn’t know it went missing. But I heard they were still going on with the unveiling tonight. I suppose they quickly assembled another one.”
    Roger looked over his shoulder again. He knew he could smell it. Its scent was too strong. They did make another. He smiled and looked at his watch. It was eight in the evening. If he was going to get his toy a new friend, he would have to do it before nine. He looked back up with a smile on his face.

  12. Tanja Cilia says:

    Not many people know that da Vinci invented the archetype slide piano, as, for that matter, nine other types of that instrument, including the ribbon keyboard. The villain of the piece was Stradivarius. Hot on the scent of a potential fortune, he got Leonardo drunk on a rose-coloured cocktail of Merlot and Sauvignon wines laced with a pinprick or two of arsenic, he stole the blueprints; but he was apprehended by the sergeant when he could not duplicate the Master’s mirror-writing on demand.

  13. Sisterhood of the Void – 8th Point

    Jebubba and her sisters discussed the pros and cons of duplicating Bef’s trek through the void by way of her famous Spot Realm. The ribbon of identical universes was a unique feature that each sister wanted to experience first-hand. The scent of adventure was overpowered by the stink of the unknown.  What villain lurked at the Infinite Boundary, waiting to add to its collection?

    An alternate route bypassed the Spot Realm in favor of Miasma del Merlot, a beautifully designed galactic cluster composed entirely of plasma. Afetar had created this universe in order to study electromagnetism. Although boredom soon followed, she did stumble upon several formations that seemed to amplify conscious waves. She suggested that the team swing by her realm to pick up a few of these formations to use as beacons.

    Seninna pointed out that plasma was very unstable and it was unlikely that they could transport it without causing a reversion to matter or energy. Afetar volunteered to go to Miasma del Merlot and meet up with the team somewhere in the Spot Realm. Just as the team was about to veto this idea, they were disrupted.

    The violation of their essence was more violent than strings popping from a burning piano – the anomaly was actively sending waves of silence throughout the void. Thankfully, the impact was dampened by the physical distance between the traveling sisters and the epicenter of the attack. Still, each ping was a pinprick on their conscious. The sisters had no choice but to increase that distance until they could once again hear each other.

    “That attack gave me an idea,” Neva riffed over the fading attack waves. “What if I go with Afetar and create a harmonic damper around the plasma beacon to prevent its dispersal?”

    The team murmured its interest in this, sharing a moment of levity when Avena piped up, “You and your harmonic dampers.” Jebubba asked Neva and Afetar to work out a plan, which solidified two beats later. The team couldn’t fathom the intricacies of the details but they understood that an exotic cocktail of radioactive and inert matter would slide over each plasmatic blob, encasing it and making it easy to transport.

    Afetar demonstrated for the sisters with an archetype she created by flicking a nearby speck of matter.  Taking her cue from Afetar, Neva quickly floated over to a quasar, snagged some material with which she spun her special container. She then tossed it over the plasma and took off in a straight line, towing the package behind her.

    “Very well,” announced Jebubba. “You two go ahead to Miasma del Merlot and meet us at Spot Realm, Universe 17 million. You will need eight of these beacons.”  After a beat, Jebubba switched to mitochondrial recording mode and increased the strength of her conscious waves so that the entire sisterhood, which had been listening in casually, knew to pay more attention:

    “The idea of using beacons should help us count beats from those most distant universes in the Spot Realm. We already know that there is some kind of expansion. We hope to discover the scope of that expansion. It will be helpful if one sister monitors each beacon as we place it. I don’t know how I know, but it seems like we’ll learn something with this little network.”

    “When we arrive at the Ultimate Universe,” Jebubba continued, “we will not use the final beacon as a transmitter. Instead, we will propel it forward and wait for a response.”

    “Wait!”  Tefa, daughter of Bet, interjected vehemently. “How in the void are we going to know which beacon is which?”

    Afetar was ready with an answer for her second-generation mother. “Simple. Each beacon will send a series of pulses equal to its location in the Spot Realm. The seventh beacon will send seven pulses, for example.”

    The sisterhood thrummed enthusiastically. Each sister pounded her vote of approval for the progress of the team. First Mother hushed them with the reminder that Jebubba was recording echoes.

    “Actually, that’s it, First Mother.” Jebubba attenuated her signal and addressed just the team. “If we can count the distance between the universes in the Spot Realm, we should be able to launch the last beacon into universe 17 million plus nine, assuming it exists. Let’s go.”

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Mitchell: You should have an artist render what you see with this. Fascinating stuff. My imagination is going wild with this scene.

      • Thanks, Shane. With all due respect, no artist can touch what you’ve just imagined. This is why I prefer books to movies 🙂
        In my mind, the void is a beautiful place. I’d love to take a trip to the Spot Realm. Heh, tell you what, let’s all go this Monday coming!!!

        • Shane Arthur says:

          @Mitchell: You know what … you’re right. Kind of reminds me of when I say I want to see what DJs look like, find them on the Internet, and wish I never looked. 🙂

    • Chris Fries says:

      Wonderful stuff, Mitch!  I love the way you mingle mind-boggling concepts into such smooth story-telling.
      Simply captivating.
      I wonder what Silence will make of the beacons?  I’m eager to read more.

      • Thanks, Chris! As I become more used to these entities, I’m actually learning a lot about their inner workings. 🙂
        In fact, I sometimes feel the urge to just bang out the rest of the story and post the entire thing.

    • Cathy Miller says:

      @Mitch-so many great lines-like this one  The scent of adventure was overpowered by the stink of the unknown. Such talent-great stuff, Mitch!

  14. Rebecca says:

    @ Mitch … Thanks! This one’s inspired by my mom. She loves mysteries and thrillers and has been disappointed with the latest books from her favorite authors.

  15. sefcug says:

    The Incident

    I was sitting at the piano bar listening to the archetype of Sandi’s new arrangement. I was having a cocktail and Sandi a glass of Merlot, which I was going to slide over to her when she finished the number.

    All of a sudden, I felt a pinprick and noticed a ribbon of blood flowing down my neck.

    Some villain had just injected something into my jugular and there was a faint scent of almonds in the air.
    Before anyone could call nine-one-one Sandi stabbed a needle containing a universal antidote into my left armpit. I was then able to restrain my attacker who it turns out is a denizen of the Confederation Galaxy.


    Be ready for anything, at any time. Especially if you are an intergalactic spy.


    In numerical order today.

    This one just jumped right out at me, just did not have access to post until just now. I am sure there will still be piano bars frequented, along with cigar smoking long into the future.

  16. Casper says:

    The sound of the piano was distant, being played in some other corner of the mansion.The building was an archetype of any old english mansions in the countryside.She was sipping on her blue cocktail as she gazed at the paintings in the hall.They all seemed so lifeless almost trivial.It looked more like a collection of the museum discards, but for the ‘Villan‘ in the center of the hall.The title seemed apt for the gruesome face and the bloodshot eyes of a man dressed in some hideous attire except for a bunch of roses in his hands.Strange.
    She never felt a shadow slide behind her.He unfurled the ribbon holding her long tresses together.Putting his arms around her ample waist, he pulled her body close to him as he began to kiss her on the neck.She hardly felt his fangs pinprick her.
    She wondered why her drink looked more like a glass of Merlot now.Even through her blurry vision and hazy thoughts she felt it was strange that she could tell there were nine roses in the portrait  just from the scent of them.

  17. Lauren Bain says:

    After the events had transpired i did not slide out like some indignant scum instead both I and sue thought it was in my best interest to leave before her dad returned.
    Now I am not trying to make him the villain here cause I know doing this was not like putting a pinprick of blood in to a shark tank and asking it not to be aggressive it was more like dropping a cocktail of adrenaline pumped blood in to that tank and getting in to give the shark a big hug and expecting it not to eat you.
    Before I left thinking how eve the archetype of all women would fail in comparison to the beauty of sue as I hugged her goodbye the scent that came off her made it all the harder to resist her but I did.
    As I walked  home on cloud nine vaguely noticing the merlot blue ribbon tied to my right arm knowing I wouldn’t take it off and as i got home greeted to the sounds of a piano or maybe a keyboard play a world without logos by Yasushi Lshii.

    • meek willed says:

      sorry lauren i did not mean to post this under your name.

      • LOL! So I was paying attention! I kept saying, “Waitaminnit…this sounds like Meek!”
        Practicing pseudonyms, are we? 🙂
        I like that shark tank analogy, too.

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Lauren: Super! Loved the shark stuff and “sounds of a piano or maybe a keyboard” Write on.

    • Chris Fries says:

      Nicely done, Meek.  I love the blood and shark analogies!

      • meek willed says:

        @:all sorry for the mind scrwe but my frend used my lappy to do her last story and well my lappy remberd her details and i didet notes till it was too late.
        ps:i too love the shark analogy’ to scine it was the only way i could think of useing pinprick.

  18. Chris Fries says:

    Hey all!  Sorry for the delay in posting this — Been a busy day and just now getting a chance to.
    “The Look of Murder — Part 21”

    I pulled myself up from the ground.  Whoever had been in the car taking pot-shots at me seemed to have gotten the urge to scram.  That was fine with me.  I brushed myself off and looked around the neighborhood, and seeing a few faces peering out of windows, I guessed that the cops were likely already on their way.  I needed to move fast if I wanted to stay ahead of them, so I moved around the hedges and up to Anderson’s house.  I tried looking in the windows but the curtains were closed, so I went to the front door.  I didn’t bother knocking, figuring that getting shot at gave me a little leeway, but the door was locked anyway.

    I ran around towards the back of the house and came to a side door off of the driveway.  I tried the knob, and this one was unlocked.  I pushed it open and came up a few steps into a kitchen area.  The house well well-kept and the kitchen looked spotless other than some dishes in the sink.  I moved down a short hallway and came to a living room.  It was dark from the closed curtains, but I could tell someone had been here recently.  Pillows from the couch were on the floor next to it, and on the far side of the room, next to an upright piano was a side table with a cocktail glass with several ice cubes still in it and a glass half-full of red wine.  I picked the glass up.  I don’t know if it was Merlot or Chianti or what, but whatever it was, it was still cold.

    I heard a thud in the next room, like someone bumping against something heavy.  I moved next to the door and listened.  It was faint, but I was pretty sure I heard something rustling around inside.

    Curiosity and adrenaline got the better of me and I pushed the door open.  Inside, there was a small bedroom.  A man was at the window, working to open it.  He turned and faced me, a gun in his hand.  It was Powell.

    “Stay where you are,” he said.  The gun provided a good argument for following along.

    “Look, Powell,” I said.  “The cops are probably already on their way here.  You can’t get away.”

    “Just get back,” he gestured with the gun.  I raised my hands and took a step backwards into the living room.  He continued jerking the gun at me, and I continued backing up.  He followed me into the room.

    “You don’t understand,” he said, sweat running off his pale face.  “It’s not like you think; I’m not some sort of evil villain.”

    I nodded.  “Sure, sure.  It’s all a simple misunderstanding.”

    “Don’t humor me!” he shouted.  “You think I killed Vivian, don’t you?  You think I murdered Mr. Thurston, too, right?”
    I tried to shrug.  Hard to do when you’re reaching for the ceiling. “I don’t know what to think.  Maybe you can explain it to me.”

    “You don’t know anything.  Why would I kill her?  I loved her, at least as much as I could.  And Mr. Thurston was going to make me a partner.  I’d given him some brilliant work; the archetype of a whole new car design.  He was going to make me rich.”  He was gesturing wildly with the gun, his eyes wide, his pudgy frame jiggling, and sweat stains forming on his shirt.

    “Look, Mac,” I said, trying to calm him down.  “It’s ok.  I understand. Sometimes it just happens; a wife will get a little bored and decide to stray, and –”

    “Shut up, you idiot.  You just don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said, a weird, twisted smile on his face.

    I didn’t get a chance to get him to explain more.  The door burst open with a sharp crack as the jamb was shattered, and three cops rushed in with shouts of, “don’t move!” and “drop the gun!”  Powell swung to face them, raising his gun, and the cops fired.  I dove to the side as the shots slammed Powell back against the wall.  The cops fired eight or nine times; Powell never used his own gun.  I watched Powell slide down the wall, a trail of bloody red ribbons left on the pale blue plaster as he fell.

    The scent of spent gunpowder was heavy in the small room as more cops crowded in, including several from through the kitchen.  A few guns were pointed at me, and I raised my hands.  But it was clear that Powell had been the target.  Either they had gotten a call about shots fired and were focused on him because he’d had the gun, or they had come looking specifically for him.

    But now they’d taken care of the murderer of Vivian and Thurston, in all likelihood.  Powell had been trying to deny it, but that was probably just the desperate ravings of a man at the end of his rope. 


    But I still felt a pinprick of doubt.

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Chris: My favorite in this series by far. You know what strikes me? It’s amazing how you fit these words so perfectly into your story. It’s as if Writer’s Digest had read your story and gave you some softballs to knock out of the park. The CCC process amazes me. This one did even more so.

      • Chris Fries says:

        Thanks, Shane!  I appreciate it.
        You know, I still find it a challenge to fit a list of words into the story arc I have in mind — glad you think I pulled it off well enough.  I actually have more fun taking a list and letting it evoke a story on the spot.
        But I’ll be back to that soon enough — only a few more episodes of this to go.  ;^)

    • Chris, what a ride! I don’t know if you had intended comic relief during the tense scene but, know how much you work to authenticate your dialog, I couldn’t help laughing at this exchange:
      “Look, Mac,” I said, trying to calm him down.  “It’s ok.  I understand. Sometimes it just happens; a wife will get a little bored and decide to stray, and –”
      “Shut up, you idiot.  You just don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said, a weird, twisted smile on his face.
      That was priceless.

      • Chris Fries says:

        Thanks, Mitch.  I’m glad you enjoyed it.
        Yeah, it’s hard not to slip in some comic moments, given the whole noire-gumshoe thing.  Sharpe’s got a definite smart-ass element to him.

  19. meek willed says:

    After the events had transpired i did not slide out like some indignant scum instead both I and sue thought it was in my best interest to leave before her dad returned.
    Now I am not trying to make him the villain here cause I know doing this was not like putting a pinprick of blood in to a shark tank and asking it not to be aggressive it was more like dropping a cocktail of adrenaline pumped blood in to that tank and getting in to give the shark a big hug and expecting it not to eat you.
    Before I left thinking how eve the archetype of all women would fail in comparison to the beauty of sue as I hugged her goodbye the scent that came off her made it all the harder to resist her but I did.
    As I walked  home on cloud nine vaguely noticing the merlot blue ribbon tied to my right arm knowing I wouldn’t take it off and as i got home greeted to the sounds of a piano or maybe a keyboard play a world without logos by Yasushi Lshii.
    (sorry i dident see it said my frend Lauren Bain when i posted this before)

  20. Rebecca says:

    @ Shane … Thanks!

  21. Rebecca says:

    @ Chris … Thanks … I would love to jet off to the Caribbean right now. I could use a break from certain people, and by people I mean family members 🙂

  22. Kelly says:


    At first, I let it slide.

    It was only a pinprick in the side of the piano. Nothing to lose sleep over, really. Could just be the natural settling of the wood or somesuch.

    Then, almost overnight, it was nine. I would sit feet away from my daughter and her instructor, listening to crooked scales and endless critiques, staring at the holes in the wood and wondering if I dared to mention to the imperious woman who had taken on my hapless child as a favor to my uncle—Madame, there’s something eating your Steinway!

    As yet, no. She was the archetype of formidable piano-teacher-diva, and I couldn’t get up the guts.

    The following week you could thread a ribbon through the holes, as they began to merge for no reason I could discern; a week later, you could stuff a cocktail napkin in the now-gaping, single hole. Surely the sound was off? And there was a scent. I could resist no more.

    “Madame Frou-frou,” I began at a pause between movements of some Schubert piece, while wishing for a swig of merlot to soothe my nerves, “there’s a hole…”

    Don’t bother me, child,” she sniffed, and I felt as foolish as my daughter when she (still) couldn’t find middle C.

    Then it’ll stay. I wonder how many other children’s mothers are staring at her waning wood in cowed silence? Well, darn it, I’m nobody’s child, and my silence will be defiant from now on.

    At last, when you could throw a baseball through and help your kid to hammer the middle C from a safe distance, the villain showed his face.

    And his whiskers.

    And his ever-twitching nose.
    Why a rat had decided to make Madame Frou-frou’s baby grand his home, I’ll never know, but that summer I got a terrible satisfaction from watching him peek his head out and around on every sour note.

    Was he a music lover or a music hater? I couldn’t tell. All that summer, he was my Pierrot, looking just a bit sad, but providing me with comic relief when he would pop his head out in silence and take his tiny bows from his growing stage.

    Inside, I admit it with a twinge; I was almost applauding.

    He’d chewed a six-inch hole in Madame’s grim perfection.

  23. Jen says:

    You can just picture it, can’t you?
    A dark alleyway, vaguely illuminated by an ailing streetlamp at the end of the block. A scampering of leaves stirs the air like the rustle of a taffeta dress, its ghostly wearer the wind. A set of stairs, littered with playbills and coffee cups leads to a ridiculously red door, labeled in a bold statement with a pink number nine. A pinprick of light shines faintly through the peephole, just begging for attention. My heels clomp like soldiers on the steps and I peek into a distant time.
    Sitting at a piano a tuxedoed man strokes the keys while chatting with a gorgeous woman, a ribbon of red silk and shimmering merlot poised in her hand. She stands above him, loftily, out of reach, the archetype of femininity. I hear the mingling cacophony of lively voices and music, the throaty laugh of the woman as she throws back her head in glee. The man mesmerized by the white slide of skin this reveals, the tilting of her chin to the modest gas lights above. His eyes and mouth hang open in appreciation.
    He blinks, lifts his cocktail to his lips, rolls the amber fluid around in the crystal glass, appreciating its buttery bitter scent as if in a swoon. He knows this woman. He knows her type. He knows she is the villain to the wife at home, toiling over the baby, tending the laundry. She is the villain, drawing him away from that boredom and into the light of her laughter. She is the villain. He is sure that whatever happens, it will be her fault.
    My phone vibrates in my pocket. The piano, the voices, the laughter, the light I had perceived have vanished. I am alone. In a dark alleyway. And my cell phone is ringing.

  24. Cathy Miller says:

    Gnarled fingers ran across the well-worn keys of the piano, her lips curving in a smile that did not quite reach her eyes. It had been so long since her fingers released the flowing archetype of harmonious sound.

    Her eyes misted in memory of a handsome young man, clinking his cocktail glass against her favored merlot in silent introduction. She felt the slide of warmth around her heart and the pinprick of loss deflating it once more. Easing down on the bench of time, the music rushed back in a ribbon of sweet embrace to banish the villain of regret as she began to play.

    She could still smell the scent of his cigar from those nine nights of magic, when music and beauty married in hope and promise. A promise they could not keep.

    • Gooooaaaal! Cathy 1, boredom 0.
      This stands on it own. You could take it and run for a while, though 🙂
      Easing down on the bench of time, the music rushed back in a ribbon of sweet embrace to banish the villain of regret as she began to play.

    • Chris Fries says:

      Ah, the mesmerizing thoughts of the ones that have come and gone — play me a memory, my Dear…
      Fabulous, Cathy.

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Cathy: She felt the slide of warmth around her heart and the pinprick of loss deflating it once more. I think this is my new favorite line of all time from you.

  25. Rebecca says:

    @ Cathy … Me too!

  26. Brad says:

    I was short nine cents. I really wanted the ribbon for the present that I just wrapped but the clerk was being a villain of the highest order. “What a jerk” I thought. “He must be drunk.” If the empty bottle of Merlot next to the counter and the cocktail in his hand wasn’t obvious enough, he reeked of cheap cigars too.
    The scent was blinding my senses. I had to get of there. “I’ll get him back though, oh yes, i’ll get him back” I said while rubbing my hands together like a treacherous maniac bent on world domination. The archetype plan was simple and has been perfected by Wile E. Coyote; drop a piano on the clerk’s head when he leaves from work. I’ll slide it up to the roof using a pulley contraption and right when I see him turn to lock the door, BAM!!!, I’ll let go. “It’s flawless” I said. “He messed with the bull, now he’s going to get the horns.”
    The pain will be a hell of a lot more sever than a pinprick just for being a prick. If only dad wasn’t an asshole, he could of had a nice present wrapped up with a nice bow and ribbon.

  27. Casper says:

    @ Brad. ha ha ha ….nice finish, didn’t really expect it on those lines.

  28. Brad says:

    @Mitchell, Chris, & Casper,
    Thanks for reading it and enjoying it. I can already tell that this site is addicting and I hope to bludgeon you guys even more with off the all tales of ten.

  29. Lydia says:

    Kind of late on this one. 🙂
    “No,” Eugene said. “She needs to rest in peace.”
    “Her spirit is at rest,” Marlene said. “She doesn’t care about the villains who killed her or what happens to her remains. I do.”
    “No. I’d like to go to the viewing now.”
    A ribbon of piano chords and restless sea of grey heads bobbing in the pews greeted them when Marlene and Ed dropped Eugene off at the tiny chapel. The first service had ended and another was scheduled to begin shortly.
    They walked out of Shady Acres in pinpricks of silence. Once Ed looked over at his wife with a frown, opened his mouth as if to speak and closed it again. As soon as they sat down in the car the questions began.
    “Are you serious? You’re not really going to dig up your great-grandmother’s grave against Uncle Eugene’s wishes, right? I hope you know that tampering with graves is illegal.”
    “I have a story for you,” came the reply. “When I was nine our cocktail Merlot died on a Saturday morning.”
    “Do you mean your cockatiel?”
    “Oh, you know what I mean! I didn’t want Mama to take him away so I hid him underneath my bed. Every few hours I’d make cocktail sounds so no one would become suspicious and twice a day I’d slide fresh food and water in his cage. When I went back to school on Monday mama noticed a strange scent and came into my room to investigate. By the time I came back home Merlot-the-bird was buried in the backyard and mama and her merlot were in her room.”
    “Didn’t you realize that Merlot was dead?”
    “Of course. I just didn’t want him to leave. There had been enough of that already.”
    “You can’t bring her back, you know.”
    “I know.”
    “And I won’t help you dig anyone up.”
    Friday. 11 pm. The shovel slung over Ed’s hunched shoulder made him look like an archetype of grave-diggers everywhere.

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Lydia: I can only imagine this submission being the most fun you’ve had to date. What a fun, fun read.
      our cocktail Merlot – that’s probably the most creative use of a word I’ve seen since we started the CCC. Super funny. And the ending! ha! Poor Ed.

  30. Michaela could hear it in her head: the nine-note scale. Her piano teacher, the archetypal villain of every music student’s nightmares, always quick to flick the conductor’s baton against the child’s up-curved wrists, suggested to Michaela’s parents that they ought to have her hearing tested. “A scale has eight notes, you see; your daughter keeps trying to add one more or less.” Her father laughed at her originality; her mother sighed over her stubborn refusal to simply play the instrument as it ought to be played.
    One evening, while her parents hosted a cocktail party on the back lawn, Michaela heard the border pipes for the first time. “Like tripping over a sheeps’s udder to step on the tail of a cat in heat,” said her mother, derisively. Michaela felt pinpricks as the goosebumps rose on the back of her neck. She caught the scent of vanilla and heather – or perhaps she only imagined it. She listened; sure enough, all nine notes slid smooth as a black velvet ribbon around Michaela’s heart. She knew, then, what she had to do.
    “Mom, Dad? I’m DONE with piano – I want to learn THAT!” she said, pointing towards the piper.

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Holly: So much in that short piece. Love the push pull of the parents, and the girl deciding to play the pipes.

      • Helps to have a stubborn daughter who’s a music major. LOL! (Well, she plays violin – and quite beautifully – but THIS is what’s meant by “write what you know,” not…”take dictation from your life experience.”)
        Thanks, Shane!

  31. […] Writing Prompts – Creative Copy Challenge #148 Piano, Archetype, Cocktail, Merlot, Slide, , Pinprick, Ribbon, Villain, Scent, Nine […]

  32. Martha says:

    The piano tossed its plaintive notes into the air as limp as the confetti that had spent too long in the sticky palm of the overexcited flower girl, now slumbering gently under the cake table. Anna felt the sharp pinprick of salt in her eyes as she recognized the last few notes. “Are you crying? I always cry at weddings. Isn’t it romantic?” prattled Maeve, unstoppable as the creek in full flood. “No,” said Anna. “It’s just the wine; I’m not used to the merlot, I guess.” “You should stick to cocktails like me,” said Maeve with a distinct titter in her voice. “They slide down real easy. My fave is a long, slow, comfortable ….” Maeve’s voice faded as Anna contemplated the ribbon adorning the bouquet. Her eyes narrowed as she considered its potential as a garotte for the clearly tipsy second bridesmaid — correction, her co-maid of honour as Erin (“I’m the bride!”) kept reminding her. Why she had ever agreed to this farce, she would never know.  She rubbed her temples and swallowed hard. Anna really couldn’t cast either Maeve or Erin as the villain. And yet, she really wished, for probably the nine hundredth time, that Erin (“I’m the bride!”) had just settled for a justice of the peace and not this farce replicating all the tawdry archetypes associated with virgin brides. It was just too much, the eyelet trim, the gauzy parasol, even the mawkish gardenia in the bouquet put there for Nanny Molly, for heaven’s sake. The scent was overwhelming, even stronger now than at the beginning of the evening. Anna struggled as the bile rose in her throat. “Are you even listening to me?” Startled, Anna looked at Maeve who had clearly shaken off her tipsiness and now looked ready for a wrestling throwdown. “And what the frack have you done to Erin’s bouquet?”

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Martha: Outstanding job of description and dialogue. Made me want to be there watching all this unfold.

      • Martha says:

        Thanks Shane. I’ve been reading other people’s contributions here and the creativity, inventiveness and quality writing is wicked. I didn’t realize that some people had developed serial characters and I love finding a new “chapter” in their adventure. Whoever thought up this site has my gratitude. These challenges are awesome.

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