Writing Prompts – Creative Copy Challenge #182

The always cool Chris Brogan chose today’s most excellent 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. Exacting – Making severe demands; rigorous: an exacting instructor; Requiring great care, effort, or attention: an exacting task
  2. Libation – The pouring of a liquid offering as a religious ritual; The liquid so poured. ; Informal. A beverage, especially an intoxicating beverage
  3. Masturbatory – If I need to explain this…
  4. Losenge 
  5. Gargle
  6. Sumptuous – Of a size or splendor suggesting great expense; lavish
  7. Degraded 
  8. Cardamom – A rhizomatous Indian herb (Elettaria cardamomum) having capsular fruits with aromatic seeds used as a spice or condiment.
  9. Nefarious – Infamous by way of being extremely wicked.
  10. Syncopated – stressing a normally weak beat

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

168 Comments on “Writing Prompts – Creative Copy Challenge #182”

  1. Shane Arthur says:

    Kelly, cover the kid’s eyes. I blame Chris for what Bobby and Billy are about to do. 😉
    “Hey Billy. I can’t remember da exactin’ phrase on account of I was always getting da degrades and F grades in school and smokin nefarious fake joints filled with parsley, cardamom, and glue, but it’s da one dat says somethin’ ‘bout you can’t make clockwise circles over your head wit one hand while doin’ da counter-clockwise masturbatory wit da other hand while garglin’ with a losenge. You remember?”

    “No Bobby. You’s a bit off on dat sayin’. Your little lizard’s has to be sumptuous, full of man-libation, and not snycopate for dis to work, but da sayin’ goes you can’t make clockwise circles over your head wit one hand while doin’ da counter-clockwise masturbatory, and shoot man-naise through the circles you’s makin. Or was it blowing smoke through da circles? Anyway, I always ended up lookin’ like a country version of Something ‘Bout Mary afterward.”

    “Not me, Billy. On account of my protrudin’ buck teeth baffles, I always ended up lookin’ like Something ‘Bout Mary’s Bulldog.”

    • Jeanette R. says:

      @Shane. It is always a good day when “man-naise” is used in a CCC story. I can tell you are feeling better 😉

    • So funny, always a blast.

      • Anne Wayman says:

        so shall we give these dudes and a+ or what!

        • Shane Arthur says:

          @Anne: Hey Anne Gal. That’s what we’s AIMIN’ for.

          • KathleenL says:

            Anne — yes, the dudes get their near first A+ on this. All three of them.
            Shane — I stopped thinkin’ of how I could use these words in a clean enough to print ditty… when I remembered you had promised much fun to come with the boys and this list. I was stopped dead in my tracks, having to dry the tears in my eyes with the first admonition to Kelly! NO lies were told here. Glad I got to where I could see a bit more clearly to laugh my way through ‘til Bobby’s ‘memberance.

          • Shane Arthur says:

            @Kathleen: Glad you enjoy them. I love writin’ them.

    • Jen says:

      glue? nice. I really feel like I know these two. Like, they might be in my family…or at least at my Walmart.

    • Good thing there were no fishing lures involved, or these quick-witted college boys would have managed another frightful pun.
      But man-naise? That’s just nasty.
      (Pot calling the kettle black, in this instance…)

    • Shane!!
      I refuse to admit in public that I laughed. REFUSE.
      And I always thought it was Oregano and Marjoram and a bit of paste scraped off the rim of a kindergartener’s jar used to stiffen the TP to resemble a rolling paper.
      Er, never mind… I don’t know WHAT I was thinking.

    • Cathy Miller says:

      @Shane-I think I’ll have Kelly cover my eyes, too. 🙂 The only problem is, how do you cover the mental image? 😀

      • Dee says:

        wait a minute…I thought it was aspirin that was smoked?? I forget…
        Never mind..I WILL admit in public that I laughed.  Loved this – I think I went to high school with their brothers.

  2. Amy says:

    It was another cold morning. Today the sumptuous smell of Masala Chai tea – with it’s nefarious and tasty cardamom undertones – filled the room.  Good tea was pleasure on an almost masturbatory level. Every pot a libation that enticed and ensnared the senses, made to exacting personal standards. The ritual was the same every day – get up, have a losenge to loosen the senses of smell and taste, put water on to boil, shower, listening to the syncopated beat of the hot water tank as it refilled, then while trying off, the whistle of the kettle, calling to you to make the first pot of the day, and to finish it before it degraded and tasted of something a monster had gargled wrapped in guaze.

  3. Jeanette R. says:

    She picks out a greeting card and lays it on my lap.  My fingers twitch with effort to grab it.  She sees my struggle and sucks her teeth. 

    The card shows a nefarious mobster with a word bubble over his head. I don’t understand the jokes of today’s youth. 

    My eyes move from the card to her shoes.  This morning she forced me to gargle with that horrible tasting Listerine.  A good portion of it came out through the sides of my mouth and landed on her pristine white pleather platforms.  I guess she was too busy to notice the circular stains cause I could still see them. 

    My daughter promised that this one would be different.  On her usual Sunday visits, sipping on her libation of choice, she explained that she did exacting research and found someone who would give me the attention I deserved.

    When the woman showed up the following day, she smelled of cardamom and garlic.  The scent must have been three times as strong because I’ve all but lost my ability to smell. In less than fifteen minutes of meeting me, she had degraded all of my previous help. Apparently they couldn’t do anything right.  

    Today is her shopping day.  If the weather is cool, she leaves me in the car with the windows rolled down promising to be back in less than ten minutes. But today is hot, so she’ll have to take me in the store.  Her secret weapon whenever we go out is to give me lozenges to suck on so that I won’t drool on myself.  I prefer the cherry flavor but she always has the honey ones, which I detest.  But I try not to make a fuss.

    I’m always amazed at the sumptuous display of items for sale at these large retail chains. Back in my country, we had one convenient store for the neighborhood and if they were out of something, then you had to do without.  We had days where certain items would be available: eggs on Monday, chicken on Thursdays, etc.

    I remember being sent by my mother everyday at 5am to try and get the freshest items.  Of course, my friends had been sent by their mothers, so while waiting for the store to open we’d play masturbatory games of who could shoot the farthest. My syncopated piece was a lot stronger back then.  I was always crowned the champion.

    She mumbles something to herself and grabs the card from my lap.  Apparently my wheelchair is taking up too much space in the aisle and someone is complaining.  She reaches into her pocket and gives me another lozenge.  I guess we are going to be here awhile.

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Jeanette: Since you can write about ANYTHING, I think you should write books about ANYTHING and EVERYTHING. Fantastic job. Reminds me of the struggles my grandmother is going through with home family/hospice care. And I remember the food ration book she showed me that she kept from the WWII era.

      • Jeanette R. says:

        @Shane.  I get inspiration from my surroundings and the CCC words help me bring those stories to life. It’s so cool!  I saw a man yesterday at Target in a wheelchair and he was my inspiration for today’s story. I always wonder what people’s lives are like and how to give a voice to them. Everyone has a story but not everyone can communicate it.

        • Frank Ruiz says:

          This was wonderful, and in a world that mostly ignores the words coming out of our elderly peers’ mouths, it was a great read to imagine their inner monologues after so many years of experience (and current degradation in many cases).

        • Shane Arthur says:

          @Jeanette: those people have the best stories.

    • margaret says:

      Sad slice of life, Jeanette…As I florist I would constantly have to deliver flowers to convalescent homes, where the elderly were so starved for affection and novelty. I would go home and tell my kids “just don’t ever put me in a home”. Of course, they were little and just thought I was nuts. As they got older, whenever they got pissed at me they would threaten to put me in a home. Funny, but it’s really not!

    • Enjoyed the story for sure, really detailed and you gain the sense of history around the character.

    • Jen says:

      Wow. Every single time, you are consistently amazing. So much resonating ambiguous, uncomfortable emotion in this. Loved. it.

    • Jeanette, is there no end to your range? This is fabulous! I agree with Shane and I would be first in line for a collection of your Short stories. Or Long ones. 🙂

    • Jeanette Ruiz says:

      @Shane, Frank, Justin, Jen, Margaret, Mitchell. Getting positive feedback from writers you respect is the best feeling in the world. I heart CCC.

    • Cathy Miller says:

      @Jeanette R-what a great storyteller you are.
      This line had me chuckling-My syncopated piece was a lot stronger back then.  I was always crowned the champion. 🙂

    • Dee says:

      you captured such an authentic voice in this.  heartrending and so alive.

  4. Frank Ruiz says:

    It’s not an exacting science.  Anyone giving a moment’s focus can figure it out.

    Give them distractions, games, libation, and they’ll barely notice as we fleece them, leaving their quality of life degraded, so that we can close on our third summer home.

    For those who get wise, make sure they have opportunities to vent, but make just as sure it only amounts to a masturbatory result; no real damage will be done beyond the radius of their tough-talking empty-protest “circle jerks.”

    For the others who remain concerned, give them the “idiot box” filled with lozenge-greased talking heads who speak their voices hoarse; directing the masses’ bubbling anger toward all the wrong targets.  We can even pit a multitude of opinions against each other: groups in grids cackling in unison, sounding like what a chorus might if they’d simultaneously gargle. Perhaps all this aggressive noise can satiate those watching; keeping them from moving on their own.  It’s worked before.

    When we need more, we’ll pit their global laboring family against each other through outsourcing.  Ketchup against cardamom, salsa versus sriracha.  We’ve used this model well, and when each country’s labor force organizes enough to become expensive for us, we just jump to the next immiserated nation.  So long as the cost-differentials between national labor forces keep global labor voices syncopated, we can take advantage of the differences.  Eventually, they may all get it together and sing as one, but we’re having a ball until then.

    Yep, this nefarious game is as old as time, and as long as we keep the hustle going, who knows how long we can enjoy the sumptuous fruits of others’ labor?

    We know.  The end begins today.  Viva #OccupyWallStreet.  Viva #OccupyKStreet.  Viva #October2011.org.

    • Shane Arthur says:

      1st: Fantastic submission. That flowed with flawless power.
      2nd: You’d love the book “Web of Debt”
      3rd: I think the best three paragraphs I’ve read on the situation you wrote about follow:

      The government is far from innocent, but for the most part, it has exacerbated the debt-deflation problem that the bankers created. Occupying Wall Street should only be the beginning of the debt cleansing process. However, what neither the Occupy Wall Street activists on the left nor the Tea Party activists on the center-right appear to understand is that BOTH Wall Street and the federal government are responsible for the present situation.

      Washington can’t fix Wall Street because it is wholly owned by the bankers. And Wall Street can’t fix Washington because Washington is already doing what Wall Street wants. As long as the left supports Washington and the right supports Wall Street, absolutely nothing with long-term positive economic effect can be accomplished.

      Which, of course, is why I have been saying for years that there will be no solution until the eventual and inevitable system failure takes place.

    • margaret says:

      Ok, Frank…I’ll stay out of WalMart.  Brilliantly articulated!

    • Jen says:

      Oh. Snap. Lozenge-greased talking heads. Dude, you are fired up (and rightly so). This is speaking truth to power in the best possible way. Awesome.

      • Frank Ruiz says:

        Thanks for the market ticker blog info, Shane!  I’ll start checking it out!

        Thanks for the comments, Margaret and Jen!

        Margaret, you had me laughing with your response about WalMart!

        Jen, speaking truth to power is always refreshing when I read, see, or hear it, so I hope to be able to be a contributor in that regard as well!

    • Frank, this is excellent. I was explaining arbitrage to someone recently. wish I could have sent them this, instead.

      When we need more, we’ll pit their global laboring family against each other through outsourcing.  Ketchup against cardamom, salsa versus sriracha.
      My favorite line. Powerful.

    • Jeanette Ruiz says:

      @Frank.  A friend commented on the Occupy Wall Street situation and he was saying how Generation Y is mistrusting of just about everything: Government, Wall Street, the American dream…and I can see how growing up with a shitty economy and social rights being swept away would do that.  But you have to admire them for at least trying to voice their opinions.  Most of us are shackled to our desks cause our immediate problems outweigh the myriad of injustices. Hopefully the microphones can magnify their voices to represent us all.

      • Frank Ruiz says:

        Thanks for the comments, Mitch and Jeanette!
        Mitch, arbitrage is the root of the moneymaker’s dreams: buy low, sell high.  The crime is that the differential cost is dumped on the many for the benefit of the few.  Zero-sum gain overall 😦
        Jeanette, your response (and especially the last two sentences) brought a poetry to the struggle that is rare to find.  I’d love to read more from you along these lines!

      • Cathy Miller says:

        @Jenette – Hopefully the microphones can magnify their voices to represent us all. Now, THAT’s a great line!

  5. Here is my poem entry today:

    Exacting sumptuous revenge
    gargle of masturbatory libation
    nefarious cardamom oils degraded
    syncopated heart barely audible
    intangible losenge ejected
    ritual completed

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Justin G: AWESOME SAUCE! This is your new best yet.
      I don’t quite know why, but I laughed out loud reading this as I was thinking how excellent this was.

    • Anne Wayman says:

      Oh this is wonderful Justin… simply great.

    • margaret says:

      They say revenge is sweet…and cardemom would definitely make it sweeter.
      I say let it go and be happy, because there is always karma brewing.

    • 4 out of 5 dentists liked this.
      We bonked the fifth on the head. So forget him.
      Excellent, Justin!

    • Jeanette Ruiz says:

      @Justin.  I had to read this a couple of times to really digest the words.  You are a truly talented poet.  You always make me think and I love that!

      • Thank you so much, I’d be lying if I said I put any effort into this at all.  I don’t claim to be a good poet, I just whipped this out in about 90 seconds. I see words, I write, I publish…  I rarely take more than 3-5 minutes tops on a CCC poem, short stories take me a bit longer but rarely do I spend more than 5 minutes at most.
        I just enjoy word games, which is why I write more poetry based on the random twitter poetry game, somehow having the framework of words to begin with spurs my creativity more than just writing with a blank page.

        • Jeanette Ruiz says:

          @Justin. That’s probably why you are so good because you don’t overthink it.  I feel that freedom with CCC and I rarely go back and make corrections.  I like to work with whatever comes to mind, never judging.

          • You are probably right, I have that same “write quick, no corrections” with the Twitter poetry game I do, so same style comes out.
            Typically I am writing anywhere from 2-3 poems on any given day anyway along with all my other writing.

    • Cathy Miller says:

      @Justin-Yowser, yowser-fabulous!

  6. Anne Wayman says:

    Masturbatory! If I need to explain this you’d better believe I’m going to be exacting, suggesting lots of undegraded cardamom used as a tea to gargle first. Then a lozenge to take away the taste, followed by a sumptuous libation which leads, of course, to a nefarious syncopated (ahem) beat.

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Anne: This goes up on the shorty hall of fame. Great, great write.

    • Superb, really truly amazingly descriptive.

      • Anne Wayman says:

        When I opened the email “Masturbatory! If I need to explain this…” caught my eye 😉

        trying to figure out how to “monetize” (hate that term) my ability… suggestions? serious or otherwise?

        • Shane Arthur says:

          @Anne: Create a Kindle ebook compilation and charge .99 for it. Would be a great example of what’s possible with writing prompts. If it only sells one, who cares. You did it. That’s what I plan to do with Bobby and Billy.

        • I wanted to create an ebook of my Random Twitter Poetry just haven’t found the time to compile and offer.  My poetry blog is the hardest to monetize however, I do occasionally write poems around advertiser products/posts and I do sometimes make some money around this but few and far between.

          • Shane Arthur says:

            @Justin G: I think we’ll add a link to our menu, something like “CCC Books” and link to anybody from the CCC that has a book out there. Should be a great resource once we all fill it.

          • Great way to add incentive to join the game, you could even use the Amazon affiliate link and at least earn a commission from each sale for yourself too!

          • Jeanette Ruiz says:

            @Shane. I think adding a link is a great idea!

          • @Shane and @ALL I have to give props here. Shane was so cool when I got the idea to link Sisterhood of the Void to my site so that folks could grab the whole thing from the beginning.
            Thanks, Shane! You’ll be happy to know that page is all grown up, now. Plus I link to some CCC veterans.
            @Holly Jahangiri has inspired me to look more closely at compilations. Y’all have to check out her Innocents and Demons on Smashwords. That’s another cool platform for monetizing your talents.
            This whole idea of creating resource pages is an organic outgrowth of a vibrant community. Yay, us!

    • Jen says:

      The best part? (ahem). excellent.

    • Heh. Anne, you rock.

    • Jeanette Ruiz says:

      @Anne. Hot doggie!  This was good 🙂

    • Cathy Miller says:

      @Anne-love the (ahem) throat clearing 🙂

  7. margaret says:

    RX  For What Ails You:

    The wizard was feeling quite elated,
    never letting his spirits get degraded.
    He developed a potion quite nefarious,
    whose side effects were strange and various.

    The ingredients were measured so exacting
    in order that the effects would be fast acting.
    Cardamom was added to give it spice,
    and make his dungeon smell quite nice.

    Syncopated music played as he mixed
    snips and snails and spider dicks.
    The libation was topped with sumptuous foam
    guaranteed to make one wriggle and moan.

    It could be gargled, or made in a lozange to suck,
    but the taste of it was bitter and yuck!   (ha ha…fooled ya…get yer mind out of the gutter)
    Wizard LSD is hallucinatory, and makes one happily masturbatory.

    So if medical help is what you need, just go to a dispensary and stick to weed!

  8. katirra says:

    Sipping on a libation of scotch, neat, feels sumptuous. It’s much less degraded than sucking a lousy lozenge to ease my scratchy throat. A salty gargle or Cardamom tea doesn’t quite do the trick either. Listening to soft syncopated music as I drink is an exacting relaxation that can’t be topped. Unless it’s being massaged by strong lads with large hands, that’s almost masturbatory its nefarious pleasure.

  9. Jen says:

    This is fictionalized account (obviously) of the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921.
    The corner of Greenwood and Archer. Downtown Tulsa. 1921. “Dr. Johnson’s Pharmacy,” the sign announced, the words painted with an exacting hand in blood red letters. Small clutches of folks walked in holding lists of needs, walked out carrying packages of lozenges, cardamom, or a prescribed gargle. They were small fixes, usually just bicarbonate of soda and maybe some zesty citrus to settle an upset stomach.

    The women dressed in Saturday’s finest after a week of other people’s laundry and cooking and cleaning and raising their babies. They strode down the brand new, built-with-their-own-hands sidewalks, their steps reflecting their mood. In modest hats tilted low on freshly done hair, in the leather of the gloves on their raw fingers, these women, taking care of their own families today. This was their part of town. They built it with hard work, with what their employers might call “sweat equity,” and with their money. Money they made as doctors and lawyers, teachers and shop owners, laundresses and cooks. They strode with a sense of the sumptuous, the emancipated feeling of an open day, filled with only the activities they chose.
    It happened the way these things usually happened, with a group of idiots and a heavy dose of free flowing libations. In broad daylight, on their own, these men appeared harmless; just ordinary family guys who brought home the money to feed the kids. Together, as sun set and the washtub liquor flowed, the harmlessness became darkly nefarious. One man said something to another man, maybe about his cook, or the “girl” who does the wash and they worked themselves into a masturbatory lather of violence.
    That corner of the city burned to the ground over two days in May. The white men assuaged their rage, their insecurity, their hatred, their stupidity by degrading the black men and women who built the city. Tulsa can still hear the syncopated echo of the of the whips in the night, the roar of flames that lit through town. Some people think we’re trying to hide our shame. I think they’re right.

  10. Hell’s Kitchen: The Game

    The warden’s stooges frog-marched the former prisoner to an uncertain freedom. Johnny Hot Pocket stood outside of Massive State Penitentiary, blinking in the early morning sunlight. His manila folder contained only a watch, a gaudy orange flyer and a bus ticket in lieu of the state’s get-outta-here cab fare.  Johnny couldn’t believe his luck. A smile was forming on his lips as he strapped on his threadbare watch. Grinning stupidly, he reached back in for the flyer.

    One night only! Gilda Gastrimargia the Ghastly Chef
    Can You Survive Her Sumptuous, Seven-course Meal?
    Winner Take All! Ten Million Dollars
    Sponsored by Death-Defying Games, LLC

    “Goddammit, not again.” Johnny sat down on the curb, suddenly weary.  Cheer and good humor had fled his newly unshackled soul, replaced by a bitter lozenge of frightened despair that drained his mouth of all saliva. Leaning back on his elbows, he marveled at the mocking invitation of the imposing prison. Johnny closed his eyes.

    As the lone survivor of the recent Game of Souls mega-tournament, Johnny had faced down the devil’s Twisted Trio – Lurchin’ Louie, Amblin’ Amber and Trapeze Tommy. He’d won ten million dollars but had been arrested on trumped up charges of embezzlement – the devil was a sore loser. Now, Lucifer was back with a new challenge. Johnny dipped his hand into the envelope once more.  The good ol’ devil apparently had wrangled a full pardon and wrapped it with a one-way bus ticket to Sin City.


    The six-hour ride from Los Angeles to Las Vegas was as literal a transformation as the metaphorical endpoints.  Having no nickels to rub together, Johnny was practically starving as he shambled off the urine-stench, vomit encrusted Greyhound carriage. As dirty as he felt, he still cringed when a toothless old woman came up to him, palm outstretched. Johnny noticed the little tablets dancing on the wrinkled flesh.

    “Oxies for what ails ya?”

    “Get out of here, old bat. Unless you have a burger and fries, I ain’t buyin’.”

    “Have that, too,” the old lady croaked. She reached into the folds of her rags and produced a greasy bag.

    Johnny was about to do a snatch and run when he sensed a chilly shadow behind him. Hastily retracting his hand, he spun around to come face-to-face with the biggest, blackest human he’d ever seen. Light seemed to be sucked into the center of the giant man’s body. His features were indistinct, shaded as they were by the dense nothingness cloaking him. Johnny shivered.
    “Best leave my mom alone, Johnny. You don’ want none of that fast food, anyway. Gilda’s just about ready for you!” The man waved his arm, indicating a taxi just beyond the Greyhound berth.

    Johnny shook off his trepidation and, thinking of the seven-course meal ahead, walked with purpose to the gleaming cab. He squinted at the logo on the door. The leaf was undulating, looking quite sensual to Johnny in his deprived state. “Virgin Valley? Is that some kind of sick joke? What’s with the wiggling leaf? Looks like a – ”

    “Get in, Johnny.” The big man climbed into the driver’s seat. He turned around to glare at his new passenger. “Not  another word, Johnny, or you will forfeit and I will throw your ass out into the hot desert. Wiggle on that.”

    Johnny nodded.


    “Ladies and gentlemen! Place your bets. Who will be the last one standing after Gilda serves her ghastly gourmet? Check the bookmakers’ odds and get your bets in! We’ll be starting in five minutes. Capitol One cardholders, we have a special offer if you bet at least two grand and charge it. See your brochure for details!”

    Johnny and the other contestants were in a boxing ring, milling about aimlessly as they waited for the action to start. After the big man had directed him to the hotel and told him to climb into the ring, he had received no further instructions. The contestants were sizing each other up but Johnny knew better. This wasn’t about them. It was about tap dancing with the devil and getting to keep your shoes when it was over.

    Johnny had lost his brother and a couple of friends in the Game of souls. He wasn’t sure he could repeat as champion cheater of death. But, what else did he have going on? One never really buys back his soul – he only gets to borrow it while enjoying heaven on earth. Johnny felt as if the devil owed him some heaven.

    Finally, the time had come. The lights dimmed. A dazzling white spotlight snapped on, painting a circle in the center of the boxing ring. The contestants shrank from the beam as if it were sizzling.  Indeed, white smoke started rising from within the circumference of the light. Swirling hypnotically about , the smoke condensed and solidified into the form of a well-endowed female. Gilda Gastrimargia, a Rubenesque demonic siren wore a chef’s hat and nothing else.

    The smoke dissipated, revealing not only Gilda’s hideous countenance but also a long, oaken table covered with foodstuffs. A contestant, looking too closely into Gilda’s eyes, vomited. Immediately, two green lizards, climbed into the ring and licked up the mess. A second later, they  gobbled up the contestant, leaving only a severed toe.

    With the proper tone established, the game got underway. Each contestant approached the table and grabbed a bowl of soup. Gilda described what they were about to consume:

    “Step up and get your chicken soup! It’s good for the soul.” She snickered – an inside joke, perhaps. “Each chicken has been decomposed exactly 13 days in two hundred-degree steel containers. Meat came right off the bone, I’ll tell ya!”

    Two more contestants gagged, earning them an early exit. Johnny was frantically trying to reach his core, knowing that controlling those reflexes were vital. Lucky for him, he was concentrating so hard, he never heard the rest of the ingredients, which cost five more contestants their guts and their lives.

    When Johnny felt ready, he took a sip. Surprisingly, the soup was rather tasty. He tilted the bowl to his lips and drank it down in three gulps, gargling the last mouthful before swallowing. Gilda glared at him, as she was still describing how she’d squeezed eye of newt to thicken the broth. Some of the other contestants, encouraged by Johnny’s bravery, took timid sips and discovered that Gilda was just psyching them out.

    Gilda retaliated with a steaming vat of panther piss. She offered the vile libation to her guests. The psyche-out phase was over.


    Four courses and seventy challengers later, Johnny Hot Pocket and two hardy contestants remained. The three otherwise anonymous players had forged a bond by anticipating and disrupting Gilda’s syncopated spiel. Working in tandem, they managed to deflect all of the psychological barriers to the disgusting delicacies. Johnny was grateful for the assistance of the two he had taken to calling Rocky and Bullock.

    By focusing on his allies and not the food, he’d realized that none of the courses was nefarious.  Johnny found this to be slightly disturbing; there had to be a catch. He tried not to overthink this game but he knew the devil wasn’t just going to give away ten million dollars to a cast iron stomach. That’s when it hit him. He was full.

    “Oh no …”

    Gilda conjured up a bushel of corn on the cob. She beckoned to the contestants.  “Gather around. My cornucopia runneth over. It makes me horny. You must satisfy me or eat an ear of raw corn – your choice.”

    Rocky sauntered over and began to undo his trousers. Gilda stopped him. “Put that away, you nasty man! You want Gilda? You do me like this!” She grabbed an ear of corn and began demonstrating in exacting, masturbatory detail, how to satisfy her needs. It was too much for Rocky. He gave a mighty hurl and upchucked all over Gilda.

    Bullock opted to chew through an uncooked cob. She lost a tooth but kept everything else down. As she retreated to a far corner, she winked at Johnny. Johnny was in no mood to eat any more food. He felt degraded as he  approached Gilda and slowly buttered her corn.


    “Thanks, Johnny. I feel wonderful!” Gilda cackled as she loosened her grip from his neck. She pranced around her table, gathering ingredients for the next course.

    Johnny’s arms were trembling violently. He didn’t think he’d ever be able to lift them again. Worse, he couldn’t look Bullock in the eye. Fearing he’d lost his ally, he turned his mind to deciphering Gilda’s movements. She was stacking utensils, cups and small containers into two piles. One of the piles had a knife and spoon, while the other had just two spoons. Guessing that he and Bullock were about to do some cooking, he angled for the two spoons. No way was he exerting himself any more than necessary.

    Gilda arranged the final items on the table – a pair of blenders filled with ice. With her usual flourish, she ordered the two to the table.  Johnny purposely nudged Bullock toward the pile with the knife, earning himself the first glare from his former partner. As he got closer to his pile, he could see vanilla beans, sugar and honey. Glancing over to Bullock, he snickered at the lemon peels, bowl of worms and strange bean-like things on a plate. They waited.

    “Welcome to the sixth course.  Before you consume it, it’s time for a little intercourse.” Gilda cackled.

    Bullock gasped, fearing the worst. Johnny, having wondered when this would happened, sought to reestablish the rapport with Bullock. Turning to Gilda, he whispered, “You mean intermezzo, dumb-ass.” Bullock’s shoulders sagged with relief. She gave Johnny a hopeless little smile.

    “Right you are, Johnny, ” Gilda tittered. “I meant intermezzo. I come from Greek stock. Italian is Greek to me.” With that, she went into an epileptic fit of laughter. Even Bullock chuckled.

    “Yess … the intermezzo shall be prepared, one for the other, since you’re all lovey-dovey now.” Gilda stopped laughing, pointed to the piles and instructed them to blend all of the ingredients and serve it to their opponent.

    Bullock smiled ruefully at Johnny as she eyed his pile and then hers. She quickly emptied the worms, cardamom and lemon rinds into her blender. A quick hit on the frappé button and she had a pungent sorbet ready for Johnny.

    Johnny was fuming as he threw his ingredients into the blender.  He’d forgotten, for a brief moment, that this wasn’t about opponents. Now he’d have to pay. He pushed the top speed on his blender, promptly liquefying the cloying mixture of sugar, honey vanilla and ice. He poured a cupful and handed the slush to Bullock, muttering, “Ice, Ice, Baby.” He grabbed his sorbet and scarfed it down.

    Meanwhile, Gilda had quietly prepared the sixth course. A goat’s head lay on a platter, stuffed to the eyeball sockets with its own cheese. Noticing that the two contestants hadn’t choked on their palate-cleansing treats, she called them over to the goat.

    “Head cheese, my lovelies.” Producing two giant ladles, she handed them out saying, “Eat up! Not one crumb of cheese must remain.”

    Bullock, regaining her composure, quipped, “I’m glad it’s not really headcheese. I hate that stuff.”

    “Oops.” Johnny shook his head frantically. Too late.

    Gilda overheard Bullock and waved her hands over the goat’s head. “Ask and you shall receive!” She laughed maniacally as the goat morphed into a bucket of warm spit. “That’s not headcheese either. Since you hate it. I s’pose the ladles are a little more useful. Slurp up, chickies!”

    Bullock passed out.


    The warden shook his head. Less than 48 hours after getting out, Johnny Hot Pocket was back in jail for murdering a cocktail waitress in Vegas. Bad luck, this guy. First person to ever win two mega million progressive slots jackpots in one night. He turned to his stooges. “I guess some people just can’t handle success.”

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Mitch: Find the biggest writing contest you can find and submit this sucker! SO BLEEPIN’ FUNNY, I’M WIPING TEARS FROM MY EYES!!!

    • Frank Ruiz says:

      Holey, Moley, Mitch!  You know how to spin an epic yarn!  I loved the scene breaks, and the fact that you blessed us with such a meaty story!

      “Cheer and good humor had fled his newly unshackled soul, replaced by a bitter lozenge of frightened despair that drained his mouth of all saliva.”  I thought lozenge was a challenge to include today, but the way you did it made it seem effortless!

      • Thank you, Frank. I wanted to get back to one of my favorite themes. Chris accommodated me with this super list.
        Lozenge was indeed tough. Syncopated was a challenge, for me.

    • Wonderful images, Mitch.  Those words be dancin’ and passin out! You should, you know, try blogging or something.

      • Antman! Whassup? I gave up blogging for this writing thing. It’s more fulfilling. I’m waiting for you to grace us with your wit! [looks down the page…Ah, there you are!]

    • Jeanette Ruiz says:

      @Mitch.  THIS WAS INCREDIBLE! There are too many lines to quote. I was laughing one minute and looking for an empty wastebasket the next.  This is hands down my favorite piece from you.

      • Thanks, Jeanette. These morbid games are a hoot. My wife is looking at me like I lost my mind…when she reads this, she’ll have confirmation. 🙂

    • That last paragraph made me sick.
      The rest, well… I really do wish you’d film it and put it on YouTube, Mitchell. 🙂  Pop a goat’s eyeball and wash it down with a little warm spit and panther piss, then pick your teeth with a porcupine quill. Tasty AND alliterative.
      Do it. Convincingly. And I’ll ask K to give you immunity. She’ll probably say ‘no,’ but I’ll ask.

      • Holly, you’re too funny. If I can get Johnny Hot Pocket on a weekend furlough, I’m sure he’d do a better job of chugging down all that stuff.
        K would probably throw me off the island forthwith.

    • Cathy Miller says:

      @Mitch-boy, you really know how to reel us in from the very 1st line and all the way through to the end. What a gift you have, Mitch! And to make people laugh on top of it all-priceless.

      • Thanks, Cathy. There’s something about this mode of writing that appeals to me. Too much Stephen King as a kid, perhaps? He used to crack me up and I loved how he didn’t take himself seriously (as far as I could tell – I mean, a possessed car? Really?)

    • Dee says:

      holy crow…if I had read this first I never would have linked here…I am so very outclassed.  (Bowing repeatedly, as she backs out of the room)  Hilarious and disgusting all at the same time.

      • Aw, shucks, Dee. Your compliments really make my day. Don’t you be backin’ out. The Usual is a beautiful entry. I really got a kick out of the apt description:
        The bartender nodded at her and she listened to the two suits circular masturbatory speeches. Neither was listening to the other, just making noise. Their conversation degraded and tapered off completely as they became aware of Tori standing a few feet away.
        You nailed that scene! And the twist at the end is delicious!
        @Everyone, click on Dee’s name.

        • Dee says:

          well I thank you but I am definitely going to have to bring my A game around here. Is this challenge a regular thing and is the preference to leave a link or to post the piece here?

          • Hi Dee,
            We do the challenges every Monday and Thursday, except for holidays.
            If you post here, you get link love from Shane on the Community page, and you can still cross-post to your site. Some writers embellish their entries with images and color.
            Either way, welcome to the CCC!

  11. Adam M says:

    A sumptuous feast was lain before her. Smokey, sweet smells of cardamom wafted through the air, bringing to mind the pastries she had enjoyed during her youth, and the heated spices of curry made her mouth water. Maybe it was the nearly endless libations that were being offered, or the exacting way that it was all presented, as though it were a five star chef’s masturbatory fantasy come to life, but she felt at that moment as if nothing could have degraded the experience for her.

    It was her hosts brief, nefarious smile — something in his eyes that syncopated that moment in her mind — that brought her crashing back to reality. The smells and sights, once so inviting, turned sour in her nose. A short burst of bile caused her to involuntarily gargle, forcing her to turn away from the now putrid sight before her.

    Losenge?” offered her host mockingly.

  12. My lips wrinkled, then distorted into a scowl. I hated it, but I gulped and did it.

    He watched me; he even looked appalled.  That was a nice change.

    I spat it out. I felt like spewing. The jangle of Syncopated Heatbeat was too much. I reached for the switch and killed the blare.

    Inside I smiled. He’d never seen me gargle grandmother’s nefarious cardamom gunk.

    “That smells nice.”

    “Um . . .”

    “But why?”

    “It’s more relaxing. Calms me. Because it’s quite exacting; the oral part is anyway.”

    He raised his eyebrows. Gave me the shit-eating grin.

    “I thought you liked oral.”

    Mouth open, I looked at him. “How much libation have you had today?  It’s not a mastabatory exam, lozenge-head.”

    He wandered to my bed and laid on the sumptuous sheepskin, because he knew I wouldn’t like that. With his boots on.

    “You’re degraded.” I said.

  13. siggiofmaine says:

    The night would start with a freshening of the
    breath … gargle ….and carry lozenges to take away
    the smell of cardamom and garlic from the spicy food
    served with the libations made with exacting measures
    to be sure the “house” made money on degradeddrinks
    as the taste buds numbed as the night hours turned
    to morning.
    Tales from the towns with  back streets
    filled with  nefarious places for gentlemen to go
    run rampant in conversations the next day.
    In barber shops and grocery stores, the exacting stories
    about the sumptuous ladies of the night,
    who would ply the men with libations
    to the sounds of syncopated rhythms that lead to
    masturbatory thoughts and degradingbehavior.
    The night would end as the gentlemen,
    to cover their breath would gargle with mouth wash,
    and carry lozenges to cover the evidence of
    libations made with exacting measures,
    and the visits to the nefarious places.


    • Jeanette Ruiz says:

      @siggiofmaine. Sounds like a roaring good time if you ask me 😉 I liked how you used the words a few times to drive home the story.

    • Siggi, you rock. This style is pulse-pounding. That’s the only way I can describe it. The reverse of Haiku.
      Gonna visit your blog.
      P.S. OMG. You all have to believe me, I’ve never been to siggiofmaine’s blog. Guess what’s on the first page? Haiku!

      I hope you know I meant my comment as a compliment!

    • Cathy Miller says:

      @siggiofmaine-I think I’ve been there 🙂

    • Dee says:

      Love the poetic arrangement of the lines that still manage to tell a story.

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Siggi: Love what you’re doing with these patterns. Anybody that has not tried them has NO idea how hard this is.

  14. Cathy Miller says:

    Lieutenant Michael Stapleton wasn’t one to make exacting demands – except on himself. But, was it too much to ask that the lab get back to him sometime this century?

    Finally, they may have caught a break in their latest case. Michael was keeping a lid on the libation of hope that raced through his system, hoping to avoid the letdown that was like a masturbatory dream gone wrong.

    Taking an almost animalistic pleasure in his raw cracking of a throat lozenge, Michael reached for his phone.

    “Yo, Henderson.”

    “So glad to see you’re working, Henderson. You are working aren’t you?”

    “Hey, I’m living my dream. That’s not working.”

    “Yeah, well try that bull-shit gargle on someone else and get me my lab results.”

    “Ah, patience, LT, Murphy’s working on it as we speak.”

    “How hard can it be?”

    “LT, only the select few know the magic. That’s why they pay me the big bucks and put me in this sumptuous work space.”

    “Well, tell Murphy to cast her spell and get me something by the end of the day.”

    “You’ll be the first.”

    Michael let the phone drop in its cradle and leaned back to look at his murder board. Seven women. All murdered. All decapitated. Until now, there had not been any evidence.

    Shifting his eyes to the photo of the seventh victim, Michael murmured, “You got a piece of him, didn’t you darling?” The killer may have degraded their beauty in a final insulting act, but this one held her dignity with a swipe of her lethal nails.

    Michael’s computer dinged with a new email. It was the lab report.

    Clicking on the attachment, Michael perused the report.

    “Scott,” Michael yelled out to his partner. “What the hell is cardamom?”

    Poking his head in the door, Lucas Scott shrugged. “What do I look like? Merriam Webster? Why?”

    “Our lab report’s back. Besides DNA, they found traces of cardamom.”

    “I have no idea what the nefarious element is.”

    Michael’s frustration hammered a syncopated beat against his temple.

    “I guess we’re going to find out, aren’t we?”

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Cathy: It’s as if I’m watching this on a prime time spot on television. So, write that book so tv can buy it.

    • Cathy, you worked those words in like they were nothing! I’m enjoying this series: it brings back memories of fingerprint work.
      I hope he doesn’t solve it too soon. 🙂

    • Jeanette R. says:

      @Cathy. I missed your stories.  I love how Lucas says “What do i look like? Merriam Webster?” I guess if he were younger he would say “Wikipedia” 🙂 I’m curious to see where you take the cardamom lead.

    • Dee says:

      Awesome story – now I am stuck thinking who will play the part of Michael…

      • Frank Ruiz says:

        Cathy, loved the story, and I’m anxious to see where this goes next (TV would definitely be a great place for it!).

  15. Dee says:

    late to the party – this was an interesting challenge.  I hope I have fulfilled the requirements.

    • Cool, I didn’t know you had the link down here, too 🙂
      I loved your entry! See my reply above.

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Dee: Excellent. You realize it’s been a year since you played the CCC? Glad to see you back.

      • Dee says:

        @Shane: thank you and oh my no – I HAVE been here before.  Excuse the synapse lapse please :)  I’ve been on a poetry kick for about a year but I am trying to work my way back to fiction. This is a great way to start.  I will try to make it back on a more regular basis.  Nice to be back!

        • Frank Ruiz says:

          Dee, this was awesome, and I love how you already have me wanting the well-dressed woman to take care of those business men (but not on the way they think!).

    • Dee says:

      sorry – I was working on several pieces at once. One had you just post the link – here is the story:
      The only sounds in the room were the quiet tinkling of washed glassed being put back on the shelf, creating a beat for the soft murmur of conversation.  Soft lighting and muted colors completed the picture.  Her Manolo Blahniks clicked with each syncopated step across the terrazzo tiles. She placed a lozenge on her tongue and inhaled the scent of cardamom and cinnamon.

      Glancing at her reflection in the window, she knew her exacting routine had paid off in sumptuous skin, flat belly, and slim muscular legs. Tori smiled to herself and closed her eyes for a moment.  The shiny brass trimmed bar was unoccupied except for two gentlemen watching a muted football game. Tory leaned against the bar, and delicately reached for a napkin.  The bartender nodded at her and she listened to the two suits circular masturbatory speeches. Neither was listening to the other, just making noise. Their conversation degraded and tapered off completely as they became aware of Tori standing a few feet away. Blue suit, brown hair smiled slightly and his friend turned to get a better look.  Blond hair, gray suit smiled too.

      “Sweetheart, you have saved me from a very boring afternoon! Can I buy you a drink?  Bartender!  Please bring the lady a libation!”

      He leaned forward as he spoke and Tori had to control herself so that her disgust didn’t reach her face.  His breath smelled like he had gargled with whiskey.

      She smiled and nodded.

      “Wonderful! I promise my intentions are nefarious.” The fool waggled his eyebrows and then winked as though they were two old friends sharing a joke. Tori smiled at the bartender.  “My usual please.”

      She held her clutch bag tighter under her arm. taking pleasure in the shape of the knife deep in the inside pocket.  My usual indeed.

  16. Kelly says:


    a word list like this could rightly be called nefarious
    it leaves you with thoughts that might make your palms the hairiest
    i can’t tell a story
    that’s masturbatory
    ‘cause i know The Kid likes to read of us

    if my rhythms are off, will you call it syncopated?
    will this poem cause my oeuvre at CCC to be degraded?
    maybe you’ll swoon
    if i sing out of tune
    but i rather think you’re too much jaded

    libations are nice, tho’ not before i’ve finished writing
    motivation and muse, while i’m drunk, are frequently hiding
    not sure if this counts
    as a literary pounce
    p’rhaps it’s a way to keep genius from being too blinding

    mes standards sont hautes, oui, my goals for myself most exacting
    i spend half-time composing, the other half caref’ly redacting
    so the beautiful orange
    of this half-eaten lozenge
    should never make readers’ eyes burn, when i’m finished compacting

    i live for this stuff; i gargle with Brogan’s words weekly (aye, don’t we all?)
    when he deigns to pop in for a Challenge i submit quite meekly (can’t help but fall)
    his stream-of-consciousness
    choices, such sumptuous
    windows on thinking most cheeky (we have a ball
    with it, darlin’)

    it’s time for the drums, or to bang a fine gong
    to sprinkle the aisles with cardamom
    i don’t think it’s too much to say CCC’s a rush
    nor to end with a whimper when without a bomb

    may t.s. eliot, dr. seuss, shakespeare, and whoever else taught me to poeticize,
    visit kind mercy on me
    for this jejune mockery
    hee hee
    hee hee hee

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