Writing Prompts – Creative Copy Challenge #154

I’m super excited to have Chris Brogan chose today’s words. Show him what you’ve got once again.

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. Sordid – Filthy or dirty; foul
  2. Velocity
  3. Unanswered
  4. Concretize – to make real or specific
  5. Miscalculated
  6. Raincoat
  7. Stalactite – An icicle-shaped mineral deposit, usually calcite or aragonite, hanging from the roof of a cavern
  8. Creepy
  9. Bumpy
  10. Arduous – Demanding great effort or labor

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

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

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117 Comments on “Writing Prompts – Creative Copy Challenge #154”

  1. Shane Arthur says:

    “Hey guys. It looks like you miscalculated how cold it is up here in Canada huh? You’ve got some sordid, 6-inch stalactite-boogers hanging from your noses to concretize how nasty the weather can get huh? And is that frostbite on your skin? Man! It’s arduous for me to ask, but do you guys need a ride?” 

    “Some questions ‘bout us be best left’d unanswered feller! You some creepy feller dat stops for hitchhikers den exposes your mountain oysters from under your raincoat or somethin’?”

    “Billy, the velocity of my bumpy brain cells be rivaling dat of a snail crawlin’ through salt, but I believe this here feller is dat Chris Brogan feller dat started that Kitchen Table Companies bid-ness dat we was gonna join but didn’t on account we didn’t have no kitchen table.”

    “Bobby, we ain’t even had no kitchen, but you’s right. This feller is dat feller … Sure feller, we’ll take a ride. Wit the three of us in your sports car, we’ll be lookin’ like some type of cozy Third Tribe or somethin’ huh?”

    “Billy, that is your name right? Billy, some questions are best left unanswered.”

  2. “Chris, what the HELL are you doing?”

    Brogan looked up in surprise as James burst in the room. “Picking today’s CCC words. What’s wrong with that?”

    “No, Chris, NO! Not like this!” James raked her hands through her hair, clearly exasperated. “How can you stoop to such sordid levels?! Frankly, I’m shocked at you.”

    James paced the room like a wildwoman, hands waving as she ranted.  “You’ve miscalculated on this one, Chris, honestly! This only makes everyone else’s future choices an arduous task! How can we ever compare to THIS?! Have you no sense of shame?!”

    “James, cut it out. That’s creepy,” Chris muttered, pulling his raincoat closer around himself for protection. “You’ve gone off the deep end.”

    The velocity of James’ rant stopped suddenly. Mid-thought, hands still in the hair and a look of serious contemplation on her face, she stood frozen like a stalactite in the middle of the room.

    Then she whirled on Brogan, jabbing an accusing finger his way.

    “You knew this would happen.”

    Chris blinked. “Knew what?”

    “That you’d concretize the CCC as an enduring copy challenge for life evermore. Yes, you knew it indeed,” James resumed her pacing, albeit this time lost in thought and stroking her chin. “It’s been a bumpy ride for the CCC until now, but one mention from the mighty Brogan, and success is guaranteed.”

    Chris shuffled uncomfortably. “James, really. You’re getting carried away. I’m just some guy. Come on.”

    “This was intentional.” James stepped up to Brogan, blue eyes piercing his face.

    “James, you’re crazy.”

    “No, my friend, no. You’ve just left me with more unanswered questions than truths. Damn you,” she added, poking her finger in his midriff with each word. “Damn. You.”

    Chris blinked again, looking down at James’ finger. “James.”

    “What?”

    “It’s just a few words.”

    “No, Chris. It’s infinity.”

    “James.”

    “What?”

    “Can we at least do this over beers?” Chris rubbed his stomach.

    “Oh.” James blinked, taken aback. “Well.” She sniffed haughtily. “About time you offered.”

  3. Anne Wayman says:

    wanted to see if I could make it turn out well:
     

    At first it seemed arduous to change the sordid, creepy way of thinking. It was indeed a bumpy ride, with unanswered questions, and miscalculated attempts. But then the positive began to concretize slowly at first, like a stalactite. Almost without warning prosperity took on some velocity and became a raincoat-free way of life.

  4. Anne Wayman says:

    raincoat was a bit arduous, but just a bit.

  5. Martha says:

    The sordid details of the affair exploded with the velocity of a doomed arrow from Cupid’s Bow. There were so many unanswered questions about what had gone wrong. And the language! Since when did concretize mean something other than attaching a pair of cement boots to a miscreant? She had miscalculated badly on so many fronts: first the raincoat, a steal at the sample sale, getting ripped on the inconveniently placed stalactite on the morning’s stakeout, then the creepy encounter with the mailman. She smiled when her secretary Bumpy – named affectionately for her protuberant knuckles – came in, bearing a perfectly foamed cappuccino. “There’s nothing like a good cup of coffee to erase the knots from an arduous morning,” she said contentedly. “But next time, don’t forget to add the shot of rum. It’s going to be a hard week.”

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Martha: Welcome to the CCC. That was an AWESOME 1st submission. I can tell you are a word-slinger for sure.
      Everyone welcome Martha to the addiction.
      I’ll add your name to the CCC Community Links page next.

      • Cathy Miller says:

        @Martha-Welcome to CCC!

        The sordid side of life has a kind of beauty that comes with the velocity of words that open our eyes to the unanswered questions that concretize the pain. Many have miscalculated the power of words and the feelings that act as the raincoat to the inner soul.

        Here at CCC, we understand it and open our arms to the possibilities as we write about evil, then laugh with delight at a lighthearted tale. Each submission bears its own style as the words form the stalactite of creativity, flowing to a single point.

        At times it is a creepy and bumpy ride, and perhaps an arduous path, but the journey is well-worth it as it brings us back home to CCC.

        Welcome!

    • C Rich says:

      Welcome, Martha.  That was great!  I loved the first line.

    • Chris Fries says:

      Excellent!  So many tasty tidbits — the first line, the protuberant knuckles of ‘Bumpy,’ the ‘creepy encounter with the mailman’ that leaves me filled with questions and great images.
       
      Welcome, and Well Done!!!
       

      • Martha says:

        Thanks! This is a great exercise and really had fun! I am happy to be here and appreciate the welcome. I’m on Twitter @marthamuzychka.

    • Lydia says:

      Welcome, Martha. Great first entry! I hope to see you again on Monday.

    • Welcome to the CCC, Martha! This submission is wonderful. Reminds me of NCIS.
       
      Cheers,
       
      Mitch
       

  6. C Rich says:

    Sam couldn’t believe what he was seeing.  He watched Lin lean toward the screen apparently mesmerized by the flames engulfing his best friend’s life.

    Sam shuddered and turned away.  How had it happened?  How had he managed to get away while fifteen people hadn’t been so lucky?  He had been alone in the bar with that creepy woman.  Had she killed the others when he had been indisposed? 

    He handed Lin a fifty and ushered him out the door not wanting to waste time waiting for change.  The boy grinned at him as he shut the door.  His odd teeth looked like a bunch of precariously set stalactites that could come crashing down at any moment.

    Sam sat on his bed, no longer hungry.  He had so many unanswered questions swirling inside him.  Maybe he was wrong?  Maybe Jo wasn’t dead?  Maybe he had escaped too?

    He couldn’t just sit in his apartment and do nothing.  He had to find out what was happening.  He grabbed a raincoat on his way out.  It was the only thing he owned with a hood that wasn’t dirty.
    He raced through the streets, weaving in and out of traffic with the velocity of a pistol shot.  He used the median a few times.  It was a bit bumpy, but he was in a hurry.  The trek had been arduous but he finally made it to the gruesome scene. 

    The police had the building surrounded.  Not many people lingered.  They must have already taken the bodies away.  Sam slid up to a cop and asked what was going on.  The man didn’t even look at him.  “Police business.  The public is not allowed.”

    “But I was here last night.” 

    The man glanced sidelong at Sam.  He sighed.  “Hey Cap, this guy claims he was here last night.  You want to talk to him?”

    An older man walked up to him.  His face was white with ash.  He swiped his brow and ducked under the yellow tape.  “What do you have to say then?”

    “Did Jo make it out okay?”

    “How do you know Jo?”

    “He’s a friend.  I’ve been coming here for three years.”  Not anymore.  Sam swallowed regret and went on, “I need to know that he’s okay.”

    The officer closed his eyes.  He seemed weary.  “His wife’s been notified so I guess there’s no harm in telling you.  He didn’t make it.  I’m sorry for your loss.  What did you say your name was?”

    Sam felt his knees go weak.  He fisted his hands refusing to sway.  “Sam McGee, Captain…”

    “Walker.”

    “You said that you were here last night?”

    “Yeah.”

    “What time was that?”

    “I was here from about ten to one.”

    “Was anyone with you?”

    Sam realized with a start that he was being questioned as a possible suspect.  Didn’t matter.  He didn’t have anything to hide.  “Just Jo.”

    “When did you last see him?”

    “Maybe twelve forty-five.  I got sick and spent some time in the restroom.  When I came out, everyone was gone…except some chick that was looking for a good time.”

    “Did you give it to her?”

    “Naw.  I’ve no sordid details to offer.  I left just before one.”

    “Did anyone see you leave?”

    “Just the girl.”

    “What did she look like?”

    He would never forget that woman.  “Beautiful.  Maybe five-nine, blonde hair, wearing a short skirt and heels.”

    “You left her behind, why?”

    She did this, but how could he prove it.  She had miscalculated when she let him go.  She would regret it.  “How’s that your business?”

    “Everything related to this case is my business.  A girl meeting that description was found in the back with the others.  She wasn’t as attractive when we found her though.  The fire crew was able to douse the blaze before it reached the bodies.  Fourteen were headless and the one with his still attached had a hole in it the size of my fist.  So when I ask you why you left that poor girl here, you will answer me.”

    The scene concretized in his mind.  He had been so sure of her nefarious nature that he would have staked his life on it.  But she was dead, just like the others.  Maybe it was another girl?  “She wasn’t my type,” Sam answered.

    “How ‘bout you come to the station with me.  I’ve got more questions.”

    “You arresting me?”

    “Do I need to?”

    “I didn’t kill anyone, Captain Walker.  The only person I could think of who might have done it was that girl you’re blaming me for leaving.  You want the truth?  That chick was scary.”

  7. I’m sure you’ve heard by now about my sordid affair with the creepy lead singer from the #3 band in the US, “Ripped Raincoat.”
     
    And how I stabbed him “on purpose” with a stalactite that fell and penetrated my shoulder during a spelunking adventure in the Carlsbad Caverns.
     
    Well, I bet you didn’t read in the paper that I miscalculated my strength trying to rip it out of my shoulder and it flung around 180 degrees and stabbed him in the chest.
     
    Of course, he died.
     
    I tried to run for help, but between the bumpy cavern floor and my massive blood loss I made it as far as the back of the “danger do not enter sign” before dropping into a pool of blood, sweat and tears.
     
    The police rushed in with the velocity of a Miami Vice chase scene, at first I thought, to help me. They injected me with something and I woke up two days later handcuffed to a mental hospital bed where they began to pummel me with their unanswered questions.
     
    “Why did you really kill him?”
    “Was it true, he dumped you for a manikin?”
    “Did you write lyrics for the #1 song, ‘my girlfriend wants to kill me?’”
     
    Whenever I tried to concretize the unfortunate accident, the deranged captain and Ripped Raincoat fan slapped me on the face with a taser gun and said, “Liar.”
     
    It’s been an arduous three months in an insane asylum, where everyone walks around singing songs on my ex-boyfriend’s last album, “Insane Sanitizer.” The only reason you are reading this now is because one of the orderlies smuggled my note out under his jock strap. (Long story.)
     
    Anyway, will you help me by calling my lawer? His name is …

  8. Chris Fries says:

    Happy Thursday, everyone!  Here’s my piece for today…
     
    A Date with Wendy

    Wendy took another look in the mirror.  Patting her graying curls, she frowned at her reflection.  She’d used too much hair spray, and her bangs were looking like sticky stalactites hanging off her forehead.

    This wouldn’t do.

    Arturo would be here soon.

    She picked up a brush and took some of the bumpy coating off her hair, adjusting and preening until it looked right.  She wanted everything to be perfect.

    Wendy had to admit that she felt a little nervous. It had been a long time since she’d had a date.  The last one had been with that idiot Bill from church.  Wendy had spent three arduous months trying to get his interest, ignoring his horrible singing at choir practice, smiling at his stupid jokes during small group meetings, putting up with the annoying way he snorted when laughing, until he had responded, and they’d finally gone out for dinner together.

    Wendy thought it went well, but Bill never called her again.  The messages she’d left on his machine had gone unanswered.  He even stopped coming to church.

    Maybe he’d had to move away for work or something, but he could have at least called and let her know.

    But Wendy knew that really, Bill was just a jerk.

    Wendy smiled at herself in the mirror and went into her small living room, straightening pillows as she went.  Arturo was different.  She could tell that from the moment they had first spoken.

    She felt a tingle when hearing his voice.  She loved the way he pronounced her name, saying “Ween-dee” in his romantic accent.  She was flattered by the things he said, by how sweetly he spoke, and by how eager he seemed to see her in person.

    Maybe she’d miscalculated in letting him come to her apartment for their first meeting; maybe he’d be some creepy, raincoat-wearing pervert or something.  And maybe she was letting things heat up too quickly.  She had to admit was a little surprised at the velocity their relationship seemed to be moving after only a few telephone conversations. 

    Then Wendy reassured herself — she was letting her imagination run wild.

    It was nice to have a man show such interest in her; to enjoy speaking with her; to want to meet her.  There was nothing wrong with that.  It didn’t mean that it was going to turn into something sordid, lurid, or tragic. 

    She forced herself to think positively.  She’d seen on Oprah how the power of positive visualization could concretize dreams into reality — that handsome young motivational speaker had written a whole book about it, and if Oprah believed it, then Wendy would, too.

    She pictured a pleasant evening with Arturo, filled with charming conversation and laughter, and maybe, just maybe, a sweet kiss goodnight.

    That’s how it would go.

    Arturo seemed so nice in his ads on CraigsList, and so polite and respectful when they spoke over the phone.  

    What could possibly go wrong?

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Chris: I’m lovin’ your stories as usual, and I’m lovin’ the ending even more too. I like this comedic cliffhanger ending style.

    • C Rich says:

      Chris, this was great!  I loved your description of her bangs!  Makes me wonder if this little old lady was a victim of the CraigsList killer.  Great characterization.  Loved the whole thing.  I hope you keep it going.

      • Chris Fries says:

        Thank you very much!  I wasn’t sure how to get ‘stalactite’ into the story at all at first, LOL!
         
        But at least as a CCC prompt piece, I kind of like the unanswered question the story leaves — each reader can picture something different, but once I write something down, we’re stuck with it   Who knows?  It might even go very well — Arturo might be a charming man and he and Wendy fall in love and they have happiness the rest of their lives.  Or he could be a psycho killer and Wendy manages to save herself and kill or capture him.  Or she might just become his next victim.
         
        ;^)
         

    • Argh! Craigslist. This is not going to end well for Ween-dee.
       
      Love your style, man. You keep the twists well under wraps. I didn’t even see this coming.
       
      Cheers,
       
      Mitch
       

  9. Rebecca says:

    @ Shane … Nice! I loved, You’ve got some sordid, 6-inch stalactite-boogers hanging from your noses to concretize how nasty the weather can get huh?” What a pretty picture 🙂

  10. Rebecca says:

    @ C Rich … Great line, “His odd teeth looked like a bunch of precariously set stalactites that could come crashing down at any moment.” I pictured a vampire looking guy.

  11. Rebecca says:

    @ Chris.  Loved this line, “and her bangs were looking like sticky stalactites hanging off her forehead.” I pictured someone from the 1980s with big hair 🙂

  12. Rebecca says:

    The news reporter did her best to concretize the story of missing 15-year-old Kendall Taylor, but she miscalculated her onscreen performance. The police found the girl’s Old Navy raincoat in the woods, a few miles from her home. Detective Peterson knew this would be an arduous and bumpy investigation. The girl is the daughter of his friends Barbara and Dan Taylor. They were good people who loved Kendall very much. Kendall’s twin sister died at birth so Barbara and Dan were super protective of her.

    Lately, there have been reports about a creepy family who moved into the old Johnson Manor. The kids refer to them as “Addams” as a reference to The Addams Family, a popular TV show from back in the day. There were so many unanswered questions, but Peterson knew the velocity of the investigation wouldn’t sit well with Dan. Detective Peterson didn’t like the woods, especially since Grover’s Cave was deep inside of them. He almost lost an eye when he was a teen thanks to a damn stalactite. Of course, he was running for his life at the time and wasn’t paying attention. He just wanted to get the hell out of the cave. It was a sordid place. God knows what he was about to find.

  13. maria says:

      
     “The unanswered question remains, Herbert.” He was a creepy little troll. How did I always get stuck with assistants like him?
     
    “Um, I suppose I miscalculated, Miss Lawrence,” he muttered. I winced as he dug in his ear, then smelled his finger.
     
    “You miscalculated. And that prompted you to go through my locker?”
     
    He fidgeted. “Can you concretize that, Herbert?”
     
    He drew his beady eyes together, trying to work out what I’d said. For him, it was an arduous task. I threw my hands out. “Why?” I drew out the word, an entire question in one syllable.
     
    His lip trembled. I watched in alarm as his entire face began to shake. As I stepped back he exploded, “It’s your fault! The red raincoat is in there!” My mouth dropped open in surprise, but before I could reply, his unfocused eyes wandered the room. “The red one, the one that’s bumpy….”
     
    With dread I realized that the store had closed. We were the only ones left. I gasped as he advanced on me, taking small, deliberate steps. “Do you think I took this job for the money? The Hours?” He laughed, as short, harsh bark. There was no mirth in it. “I’ve done everything but propose to you, but you’re a stalactite. I’ve met popsicles with more warmth that you.” He spit the words at me, gritting his teeth.
     
    He’d finally backed me up against the filing cabinet. “What…what do you want?” I whispered. My heart hammered so loud I could count the beats.
     
    “I want a nasty, sordid affair with you, Miss Lawrence. I want you on all—”
     
    Smack. I gasped as he toppled over to smash his head on the table. He slithered to the floor as if someone had poured him out of a glass. “Are you all right?”
     
    “Jennifer. Thank God.” I fell into her arms as she smoothed my hair. “I thought you’d gone.”
     
    “No way. At the velocity you attract…men…” she paused as she considered the wimpy, disgusting creature bleeding at our feet, “I thought I’d better hang around.” She called 911 to report his assault on me and then we went home, to cuddle.
     
     
     
     
     

    • Wow, Maria, that was intense! I love your way with words:
      He slithered to the floor as if someone had poured him out of a glass.
      she paused as she considered the wimpy, disgusting creature bleeding at our feet
       
      Good stuff!
       
      Cheers,
       
      Mitch

      • maria says:

        Thanks. I am planning a holiday so didn’t have my full attention on this. Usually I read the prompts I have the story immediately. It writes itself in my head, with no backspaces, no edits–nothing. But today…not so much. It was an easier set of words but I just wasn’t there. In my novel, I’m at the midpoint, and there’s a fierce confrontation between two characters that isn’t easy to write, so I’m working on that while trying out a dogsitter for the very first time…AGH!
         
        But thank you for your comment. 🙂

    • Chris Fries says:

      Whoa — great character evolution as the creep grows from sniveling to intense and threatening.  I also like the saved-in-the-nick-of-time surprise at the end.
       
      Nice!
       

  14. Rebecca says:

    Thanks everyone!

  15. margaret says:

    It had been an arduous undertaking and a bumpy road to success, but finally after all the unanswered calls and letters to the police station and city council, the concerns of the neighborhood watch had been taken seriously.

    Concerned parents would be happy when this whole sordid affair was put to rest and the creepy character that had been hanging out in the park and by the school was caught and put away.
    A plan was concretized and undercover cops were in place.

    There would be no “flash and dash” this time. He miscalculated how much time he had to get away.
    He never expected to be pounced on with such velocity. This time, when he opened his raincoat, revealing a very unimpressive stalactite of flesh, he found guns pointed at his geodes rather than a shocked and frightened audience. No Grand Canyon was he and the only audience he would have from now on would be fellow inmates and prison guards.

  16. Rebecca says:

    @ Maria … I love this line, “He was a creepy little troll.” Great imagery.

  17. Lydia says:

    “Deputy Velasquez speaking. ”
     
    “Deputy, this is Pastor Small from Paradise Presbyterian. I wanted to talk you about the recent disturbance in our graveyard. After you left the scene Edward and Marlene Massey showed up with a completely different story than the one they had a week earlier when they wanted to look through our records.”
     
    “What did they say?”
     
    “That they’d given up the search for information on Marlene’s great-grandmother. Both of their shoes were caked in dirt, though, and my cousin who works at the newspaper says they spent hours going through the archives.”
     
    “You know I can’t arrest two senior citizens on hearsay, Olivia.”
     
    “No, but you could bring them in for questioning. Even if they weren’t the ones doing creepy things late at night in a graveyard they might know who is responsible!”
     
    “That would be one option, yes. With the special election coming up next month I don’t want to make any waves, though. Do Ed and Marlene visit Mel’s Diner for an early supper on Tuesdays?”
     
    “Yes.”
     
    “Where’s my raincoat? I’m suddenly craving a tall glass of milk and a slice of strawberry-rhubarb pie. Maybe I’ll run them there and strike up a friendly conversation about sordid tennis shoes…”
     
     
    “Yes,” Marlene said. “What about them?”
     
    “Apparently they were effective but not exactly safe. Reverend Pritchett devotes pages of his journal to the dangers of them. Some of his examples seem oddly concertized. For example, he talks here about a young mother of two who used them only to lose her life in the process.”
     
    “He could have been talking about anyone, though. I’m sure there were many women who trusted Dr. Peter’s pills.”
     
    “It’s getting late,” Ed said. “We could always borrow this and read more of it after supper.”
     
    “We’ve always taken good care of our possessions,” came the reply. “It isn’t really stealing if nothing is harmed and you intend to give it back.  I think it might even fit into my purse.”
     
    “Mel’s?”
     
    “Where else are we going to get homemade pie for dessert without having to wash all of those dishes?”
     
    “I wonder if this is the key to our unanswered questions,” Marlene said as they sped away. “Reverend Pritchett seems like someone who figured out everyone’s most arduously-hidden secrets.”
     
    “And I wonder why he’d want to write anything down!”
     
    “He didn’t use names. Maybe he thought it was vague enough not to be figured out?”
     
    “Or maybe we’re reading too much into the first half-dozen pages. After supper I’ll read some more. Where should I put it in the meantime?”
     
    “In the trunk.  Wrap it in this jacket first to protect it from the rain. Our other…stuff is well insulated from bumps in the road and I don’t want this book to go back to the historical society with any signs of wear and tear.” Mel’s was half empty this early on a Tuesday evening. Marlene and Ed decided to sit in a booth at the back of the little restaurant and no sooner had they shaken off the dreary drizzle and hung up their coats than Deputy Velasquez stepped through the front door and greeted them with a big smile.
     
    “Ed! Marlene!” his voice boomed. “I haven’t seen you in ages. How are you?”
     
    “Good,” Ed said. “Come sit and eat with us. How are the little ones?”
     
    “Growing up too fast,” the deputy laughed. “I keep threatening to give them little blue pills so they’ll stay the same size for a few years. What have you been up to lately?”
     
    “Oh, a little of this, a little of that. The grandkids are keeping us busy as usual.”
     
    “How did you get such muddy shoes?”
     
    “Marlene and her spelunking!” Ed confessed in a mock-conspiratorial tone. “She’d live in a cave if it came equipped with a television.”
     
    “I didn’t know there were any caves around these parts!”
     
    “There aren’t. We drove over to Springdale this morning. Marlene heard about a rare type of stalactite they have in that area and she couldn’t wait to see it.”
     
    “It turns out that they were only in the most inaccessible parts of a cave you could imagine. We had to rappel down 200 feet of slippery rock in pitch-black darkness to find it. Ed miscalculated what his velocity would reach and almost ended up sledge-hammering his feet into the floor.”
     
    “That sounds scary. I guess you haven’t heard what happened since you’ve been out of town all day?”
     
    “We have not. What happened?”
     
    “Someone desecrated your great-grandmother’s grave, Marlene. I’m sorry to have to tell you this way but it was completely dug up. They may have even removed some of the remains. Well, either that or your relative has completely disintegrated.”
     
    “That’s awful.”
     
    “Do you have any information about who might have been involved in this?”

    • This getting “funner” by the episode. Somehow, I missed the fact the Ed and Marlene were seniors. This make their escapades even more delightful. We gotta root for them 🙂
       
      But, boy, can they lie…
       
      Cheers,
       
      Mitch
       

    • Chris Fries says:

      Yeah, I’m with Mitch.  This is fun and intriguing!!!
       
      I also missed that Ed and Marlene were older, and agree that these two are fibbers of the first-degree!
       
      Great stuff.
       

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Lydia: It’s heating up … but I like how this older couple is handling the fire. I’m sure will will add more fuel to the fire thought. Need more! 🙂

  18. Sisterhood of the Void – Vantage Point
     
    Neva returned to Miasma del Merlot with more than enough material to create eight harmonic dampers. She noted with approval that Afetar had already marked the plasma beacons. Neva had a few ideas for improving on the hastily constructed prototype that she had used in the demonstration. There had been an imperceptible amount of plasma leakage when she towed the archetype. Over greater distances, such cumulative losses might be detrimental. Her modifications should eliminate that problem.

    Afetar had just finished marking the eighth beacon when Neva zoomed into Miasma del Merlot. “Can I help?” She looked doubtfully at the assorted matter swirling in orbit around Neva.

    “Oh, this is not too arduous. But you can make sure that I package the largest beacons first. It’s easier to pull excess material from a completed damper.”

    “Certainly,” replied Afetar. With a flick of her finger, the beacons rearranged themselves in descending order of volume.

    “Now, I’m just going to concretize these modifications and close off this massive beacon, here.” Neva swooped around the first beacon, trailing threads of matter. More slowly than she had created the prototype, she wove the threads into a tight matrix of armor, an iron maiden raincoat with bumpy stalactites spiking deeply into the plasma. Finishing with a flourish, she appended a crochet-like hook to the harmonic damper.

    Afetar bounced an appreciative ping on the collective conscious sheet. “You have created a remarkable construction; I can barely sense the beacon’s energy. Let us return to our sisters.” 

    “I am honored, young sister.” Pleased with the harmonic damper’s modifications, Neva confidently built the remaining seven packages in just four beats. Finally, she took the last of the material and lashed the hooks together, creating a cosmic knout. Grabbing the end of the thread, Neva began towing the beacons toward the Spot Realm, following behind Afetar.

    ***

    Spot Realm, Universe 17 million was thrumming with activity. Jebubba, Avena, Rekikka and Sininna had surveyed the entire universe, debating on the best place for a beacon. They knew, from listening in on Neva and Afetar in Miasma del Merlot, that each beacon was more voluminous than the next. Sininna asserted that position didn’t matter. Rekikka agreed, adding that the larger beacons should be released later, since they would give off more powerful pulses. Avena, who understood her mother’s harmonic dampers better than the rest of the team, agreed with Rekikka’s power assessment but countered with an argument for precise positioning. Jebubba agreed with everyone, a little gun-shy after her suggestion about stacked sheets was shot down.

    Afetar and Neva caught up with the team, inserting their own thoughts into the discussion. Afetar confirmed the differing power capabilities of the beacons. Neva supported her daughter’s idea of precise positioning. She switched to mitochondrial recording mode:

    “Beacons pulsing with varying levels of power, at randomly spaced intervals relative to each other, introduce the possibility of a Bes effect. The destruction of one or more pulses would negate the entire signaling initiative that Jebubba proposed. By concentrating on the positions of each beacon, as well as the retraction of its harmonic damper, we should be able to ensure isolated pulses.”

    Afetar matched Neva’s conscious intensity with a cry of dismay. “Sisters! We have seriously miscalculated the beacon pulse method! Dear Neva is absolutely right. How many times have we admired the alignment of orbiting bodies? We are always delighted and surprised at the variations and periods of planets yoking together. At such times, depending on our perspective, it is possible that we might observe all planets as a single object. Now, look at the Spot Realm – the whole damned thing is a straight line!”

    Once again, the Sisterhood was in shock. Afetar’s astute observation set the entire conscious sheet to vibrating with thunderous claps, incredulous pings and staccato suggestions. Attenuated over the vast distance between the Spot Realm, Universe 17 million and the colony, each thought nevertheless reached both endpoints. One such thought, a suggestion from Bet, the wise, caught Jebubba’s attention:

    “Forget sending pulses back to us. Strategically release the harmonic dampers to calculate the center of each universe. After the first two or three, you will have counted enough pulses to determine a pattern, just as Sister Ben did when first Bef’s, then Bel’s communications slowed down.”

    Jebubba waited for Afetar and Neva to switch off mitochondrial recording. She repeated Bet’s suggestion. Asking Afetar to analyze it for flaws, Jebubba turned to Neva and requested another demonstration. Both sisters thrummed for what seemed like an eternity of beats. Neva spoke up first.

    “The harmonic dampers were not designed to be opened in synchronization with the beacons. It’s simply a gigantic carry-all. Its conscious essence is not cohesive enough to initiate communication with the beacon. However, if one of us were to tune into the beacon’s pulses, which we would have had to do anyway to set the rate per beat, then she can release the damper at the beginning of a cycle.”

    Afetar, just one beat behind, pinged approval. “This suggestion is flawless. We have two facts. First, the first 17 million universes are uniformly spaced. Second, the next eight universes are either uniformly spaced and the velocity of beats are slowed by something unknown or, the universes are spread so far apart that beats take longer to travel. Although we have never experienced slow beats before, the record in the library affirms its existence. It is up to us to determine its cause.”

    The Void became quiet. Afetar’s vibrations were the only signals propagating throughout the sheet. The background noise of universes, galaxies and stars were but a whisper, as Afetar continued her analysis.

    “Two beacons, set to different rates and activated synchronously on two separate universes will offer pulses equal to the higher frequency alone. Or they will produce a cacophony of unsynchronized pulses.  Continued synchrony will tell us that there is no stretching of beats between those two universes. Any other signature will have to be deciphered. Flawless.”

    Jebubba understood enough to know that she had focused on the right suggestion. She instructed the team to work out the timing.

    ***

    The team decided to use pulse rates that matched the recorded beat intervals from Bef’s ill-fated experiment. The team was not inhibited by having no mathematical system more sophisticated than counting. Afetar’s display of logic showed what they were capable of accomplishing with mere addition. When each beacon was calibrated, the sisters discussed tactics.

    After activating the smallest beacon on Universe 17 million, they would advance to each of the next seven universes, releasing the harmonic dampers in time to the previously activated pulses. At each universe, they would assess the combined pulses.  At universe 17 million plus seven, Neva would return to collect all the beacons, as they should have a pretty accurate picture by then. Thrumming with new excitement, the team activated the first beacon and set off for Universe 17 million plus one. They felt that they were getting closer to the unanswered sordid mystery of the creepy anomaly.

    • Chris Fries says:

      Ahhh…  Back to the Void.  🙂
       
      An excellent entry, Mitch!  Intriguing, unique, and complex — this is captivating!
       
      But I gotta tell ya — maybe it’s because my eyes have reached a certain age (my fellow fifty-year-old), but I swear I first read ‘harmonic dampers’ as ‘harmonic diapers‘ and it gave a whole new meaning to that leaking plasma…  ;^)

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Mitch: I just don’t know how you do it! Fascinating world you are creating. And I love how this all hints to music theory. I don’t know how, but I just keep thinking of the origins of music.

  19. Anne Maybus says:

    As a mentor, you suck.  Ours was a bumpy relationship from the start but I’m tired of you patting me on the head and dismissing me.  Stop patronising me  and keep your sordid opinions to yourself.  Why should I care about what you think?

    You hang me out like a sparkling stalactite whenever you want people to see how good you are but no one knows what an arduous journey mine has been.   You tell people that you made me what I am.  You think I’m successful because of you?  Honey, you’ve miscalculated. I did this all by myself.

    You tell me that you taught me everything I know and I know you really believe it. But why?  You left me with so many unanswered questions that what you really taught me was how to work them out for myself.   The velocity of my success has nothing to do with you.  It was my hard work that got me here.

    You hang around me like a creepy old bloke in a flapping raincoat.  What do you really have under there?  You had nothing for me – nothing to concretize my future.

    Let me go. I refuse to be your display piece anymore.

    You’ve got nothing for me.

    You never did.

  20. Rebecca says:

    @ Mitch … Thanks! Kendall’s twin sister may not be dead after all. Stay tuned 🙂

  21. Jake says:

    Still taking a break from Howard, and not very motivated…..
     

    “Ready to concretize his miscalculated decision, Paul increased the velocity of his pace, buttoned his sordid raincoat and made his way down the bumpy and creepy alleyway for the arduous trek to the Stalactite Club; his questions still unanswered.”

  22. Jen says:

    The night-long battle she’d fought against Patrick after her first escape attempt could not begin to rival her worst arguments with her mother. Her mama could knock her down with one word aimed with the velocity of hatred at Darla’s young heart. She could pierce what little confidence Darla had earned while on the job at the second hand store without so much as a blink. She never miscalculated. Darla’s mama always hit her target. And she always went unanswered.
     
    Darla ran through the knee high grass behind the barn, dashing when she could under the long, low limbs of the pines that threw a merciful shield around her. There was no path, because The Community did not allow members back there. She carved a bumpy route, lifting her eyes every few steps to make sure she ran toward the flicker of car lights in the distance. They seemed so so far away.
     
    Patrick thought he could outrun her. Patrick thought she’d come back. Patrick thought she’d never make it that far. Patrick was an idiot.
     
    Bile rose in her throat. Every sordid detail of that epic battle flickered in her mind, a film constantly playing and rewinding against the backdrop of her brain. He had slapped her. She had slapped back and landed a solid palm to his chiseled jaw. His eyes widened, surprised at her reprisal. He brought his hand up to stroke his skin and that tiny motion concretized for her everything; she knew she had to get out of there. The glint is his once beautiful eyes made everything he did appear creepy and uneven, untethered to anything Darla could understand.
     
    Where he once had seemed such a comfort, a warm and dry raincoat against the storm of her mother, Darla then saw what a asshole he was. He was no raincoat. He was a stalactite shaken loose in a quake, aimless but angry, hunting for blood. Anyone’s but his.
     
    She knew the path would be long and arduous, but after that fight, she resolved again to get out of here. She stopped under a tree to catch her breath, trying to hear over her heaving lungs, wondering if she could get far enough away. If far enough could every be found.

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Jen: Outstanding. Love how you started those four sentences with the same word (Patrick), and the part about he was no raincoat. Great stuff.

  23. katirra says:

     
    Miscalculated velocity lead to unanswered questions for the council of Sorid Creepy Magicians. Their specialty was creating bumpy stalactites in the shape of naked women while wearing nothing but raincoats. Many mistakenly believe it’s an arduous task but in reality it quite simple. Chanting while guzzling moonshine usually concretized their existence. Unfortunately for them the pornographic renditions appeared on the houses of their women.

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Katirra: I’ve missed you and your writing. And now I remember why. This was awesome. Funny too.

  24. Mack says:

    I could not believe how difficult this is turning out to be.  My research paper on fictional cave dwellers had some unanswered questions.  That is to be expected.  But the velocity with which people got to me, and the sordid language – unbelievable!  I had completely miscalculated their reaction.  And here I was, wearing a raincoat, walking in a cave, trying to miss water dripping of stalactites.  This creepy, bumpy journey to concretize details is really difficult – super arduous.
     
     

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Mack: Welcome to the CCC. Love this 1st submission. Nice, tight writing style. I’m a big fan of the short form submissions.
      Hope to see you back every Monday and Thursday.

      Everyone welcome Mack to our party.

      • Mack says:

        Thanks Shane.  Look forward to exercising my writing muscle 🙂

        • Cathy Miller says:

          @Mack-Welcome to the CCC!
           
          Join the sometimes sordid and bawdy submissions that are CCC that coexist with the lighter side of life and beyond. You’ll find the velocity of ideas staggering as they race from your keyboard to the green and white pastures of CCC.

          So, take your unanswered dreams and concretize them for all to see as doubt is just a miscalculated turn from success. CCC is your raincoat protection from the rain of criticism that threatens with stalactite precision. The creepy, bumpy and arduous road of the past is leveled by the applause for all who who visit our home.

          Welcome!

  25. Caught up and ready for tomorrow’s prompt 🙂
     

    After dodging the projectile, Katie muttered a few sordid words. She had no idea of where the object came from. But Roger did. The projectile’s velocity told him it came from the large balcony above the ballroom. He gazed towards the balcony while Katie reached for the projectile which now stuck out of the floor. She lodged it free and started to study it.
    “Why would anyone want to throw a steak knife at me?” she asked.
    Roger left her question unanswered. “Katie, we need to go. We need to go now.”
    “Why? What’s going on?”
    “They’re here. They’re going to get me. And they’ll stop at nothing to get it back.”
    “Who?”
    Roger had to concretize them for Katie. “Let’s just say, not the guys I stole the box from. There’s another group out there who knows about the box. And they want it bad.”
    “How do you know it’s them?” Katie asked.
    He grabbed the knife from her and held it up for her to see “They usually aren’t so miscalculated.”
    “Well, who do we look for then? Some man in a raincoat?”
    “There’s no way of finding them. But we have to be on guard. And we have to be safe. For one, don’t stand under that.” He pointed towards the chandelier in the room which hung like a stalactite in the cavernous ballroom.
    As Roger pointed, a creepy laughed bellowed over the balcony, and Katie jumped a little in her own skin. Roger saw this and tried to comfort her.
    “Hey, you know as well as I do that it was probably just Henry Cutherton talking about his wife again. You know how he gets when he talks about her. But you need to calm down a little bit. Don’t be so bumpy. Then they’ll be able to see that you know. And then it won’t be just me who they’re after.”
    Katie just glared at him. He could see what she was thinking.’Thanks for telling me. Now my life’s on the line, too!’ He just hoped she would be up to helping him with the arduous task that was soon to come.

  26. KathleenL says:

    A Mind-full Conversation

    Hey there, Lovie. You know — there have been many unanswered questions for months now;
    two days shy of 9-months to be exact. 
    Getting to the answers, to this point — albeit a bumpy road … has been the arduous
    task undertaken by many strangers; strangers who are fighting for you both like
    you are one of their own.  Sadly, we are
    no closer to the answers many people ask me and want… Why? Right. But I guess none
    of us will ever really have that question answered. Because what can he say
    that will make what he did okay? Not a dam thing… you are right son. Not one
    dam thing.

    E-man, I have miscalculated
    … miscalculated the unknown.
    Listening to the one you love, listening to her recount the sordid details of that day….  Oh what she endured. Oh what you endured. I
    had no idea. The torment he caused you…. You, unable to get up from your
    injured position … having to listen to all of that, unable to help her. She
    said you cried. Oh son, I bet you did. Oh son. I am so, so, so, so, soooooo
    sorry.

    Her testimony and the added details have concretized the burning hatred growing within me. And If I am feeling this way…
    what about your girl? Your little sister? Your dad – both sitting stoically
    beside me in this room that promises justice?

    Hey… got a new definition of creepy Lovie… can you see this? His mother is sitting behind us …
    he is sitting in front of us….  I just want
    to scream.

    The reality of your last hours… as they hit my ears… I feel
    the sharp point of this reality like the miner who has fallen beneath a stalactite that he knows has lost its hold
    on the cave’s ceiling that it has called home for years. The impending
    impalement causing my heart to race… oh this is not good.

    I should have brought a raincoat
    because the darn tissues the victim’s advocate gave us… well they are just
    inadequate.

    The velocity of
    her words pummel my ears, my heart Lovie; her semi-steadiness; she is so brave,
    now and on that fate filled day. I don’t know if I can do this Lovie… sit
    through and listen to this again. But you know I will… Yes, E-man. I will sit
    here, in the brightest colored shirt I can find so that bastard can see me out
    of the corner of his eye. He will know you are loved. So will the jury. I will
    muster up what it takes… but you and God will have to help me. Okay Lovie.
    Okay. Dam I need more tissues.

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Kathleen: Such a powerful write. All I can say is, as I sit here barely able to breathe cause of my back seizing up on me and tightening the muscles around my lung, I am lucky for what I have. Thank you for this reminder. My spirits are down lately, but reading stuff like this helped me today.

  27. KathleenL says:

    ohhhhhhhhhhhh SHANE — I am glad something I have written brings you some mental relief. Sorry you are not feelin’ good bud.  But still glad I can bring some happiness to you or lead you to it even when I am not makin’ you laugh with Isabella.       Yes, being thankful for our blessing from God is something, yet again, you and I have in common. I will pray, right now, that your breaths come to you easier and your muscles relax and that your spirits are lifted by the grace of God. You will have extra good thought from me today my dear friend. 

  28. Kelly says:

    A LOW-DOWN HIGH

    The ride through the cave wasn’t arduous, but it was creepy. Our flashlights barely lit the place as we descended in our bumpy little cart along corroded 1880s rails. You could say the velocity was terminal, if what you mean is “I almost died of the loping pace.” It wasn’t possible to walk the path, but it it were, a four-year-old could have beaten us. My raincoat kept sordid drips from the stalactites above us from soaking my clothes, but it couldn’t stop the stench from reaching my nose. If you’ve never been coated in a goopy film of bat guano, I’ll tell you, I can’t recommend it. The beady-eyed beasts were occasionally excited by our wheels, squee-squee-squeeeee, and they’d fly down for a closer look. They may have radar–they never miscalculated while I was there–but we didn’t, so with every swoop someone in the cart would rock the whole thing while trying, unnecessarily, to duck. My pleas to stay still before I had to make things worse by barfing into our rickety contraption went unanswered. When a flying rodent seems to be aiming for you, even grown men with PhDs blanch and swerve.

    That ought to concretize for you, just what the descent is like. Three hundred feet below ground level, we finally came to a herky-jerky rest. I begged to be allowed to die there rather than have to endure it again…

    … and then our native guide shouted loudly, “This way, folks.”
     
    Was it worth it?

    To see those ancient cave drawings, impossibly hidden beneath one of the most forbidding deserts in the world, only weeks after they’d just been discovered–before crowds and governments conspire to cut off researchers like us from one of the richest troves of early communication the world has ever seen? To stand in the dark presence of inexplicable genius reaching back three dozen millennia? Best high I’ve ever experienced.

    I’m going again as soon as I’m able.

  29. Chris Fries says:

    Amazing — the protagonists are achingly going deeper while the story keeps going higher.  Why were they there?  What were they going to see???
     
    I loved the cave-painting reveal, and the wonderful description and evocative language you use.
     
    I’m no caver, but I’d go!  Awesome job!

  30. Adam M says:

     
    I waited in the creepy hallway outside the interrogation room, watching as office drones wearing outfits with all the style of a raincoat moved along at great velocity. Their gait became bumpy when they got near the bench I was handcuffed to, averting their eyes upward to stare at the cheap lighting to avoid the arduous task of feigning polite interaction.
     
    During the lulls in activity, I wondered how I had miscalculated their response so badly. There were so many unanswered questions, and this sordid affair had left me wanting to take a long, hot shower. That, and the three days I had been in custody with little more than toilet breaks that had left my hair hanging from my head like stalactites.
     
    The door to the interrogation room swung open, and my predicament began to concretize.
     
    “Get up, come in, and sit down,” said Johnathon, his gaze unreadable from behind his dark sunglasses.
     

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Adam M: Love what you did here. Great example of simple human interactions that say so much. Reminds me of how people act when they are walking toward someone. Isn’t it funny the angst that a simple task like that can cause?


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