Writing Prompts – Creative Copy Challenge #187

Today we have  Justin Germino of the Wanderer Thoughts Poetry blog choosing the words. Show him how you rise to his 3rd challenge.

Writing prompts cure writer’s block. Take the 10 random words below and, in the comments, crush writer’s block by creating a cohesive, creative short story tying them together! And remember: after (if) you finish, highlight your words and click the bold button to make them stand out and help you determine if you forgot any words. (If you’ve missed previous writing prompts, do those too.)

  1. Erroneous
  2. Advent – a coming into place, view, or being; arrival: the advent of the holiday season.
  3. Innocuous – not harmful or injurious; harmless
  4. Decisions 
  5. Virility
  6. Catacombs – an underground cemetery, especially one consisting of tunnels and rooms with recesses dug out for coffins and tombs.
  7. Weathering
  8. Placate – to appease or pacify, especially by concessions or conciliatory gestures
  9. Catatonic – a syndrome characterized by muscular rigidity and mental stupor
  10. Gelatinous

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


174 Comments on “Writing Prompts – Creative Copy Challenge #187”

  1. Shane Arthur says:

    “Hey Billy! I was wonderin’ — erroneously innocuous mind you — weatherin’ or out bellybuttons is sexy on gals. Course, if da gal is gelatinous, it don’t matter none which one Mr. Nature gave her, cause it defaults to da innie. But still, what you think?”

    “Bobby, I ain’t gonna placate and mouse wit you. I’ll just be honest and say I’s addicted to da advent of da outie bellybutton on gals, especially da gals dat made decisions to pierce um. Just fills me up wit’ virility when I sees um. My Little Billy gets a catatonic.”

    “Billy, you gets filled up wit’ a virus just from lookin’ at da outie bellybuttons? And I didn’t know your cat drunk da tonic. Next thing you gonna tell me is he brushes his own fur wit’ a catacomb.”

  2. Helena demanded that Vernon prove his virility. She had wanted a baby for so long and, with the advent of her thirty-third birthday, the decisions that had postponed their starting a family were no longer an issue. Every pregnancy test after every missed period couldn’t be erroneous! The man was obviously shooting blanks.

    Of course, he was insulted but, with practiced charm, she was able to placate him. Now he was down in the catacombs of Mercy General, getting an innocuous test, courtesy of a plastic cup and pulse-pounding pornographic videotape.


    Vernon looked at the gelatinous mess. Jerking off didn’t embarrass him; taking the shit upstairs to the dowdy nurse in the fertility clinic was going to require a level of confidence he just didn’t have. He was practically catatonic with shame. He just bet it wasn’t even him – why, Helena’s periods had been irregular for years. Wasn’t that a symptom of something? He had never paid much attention to women’s plumbing, except when he was horny and denied.

    “Fuck it.” He threw the cup in the trashcan. He figured he’d be better off weathering the storm of tears.

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Mitch: NO YOU DIDN’T! But, I’m glad you did. Great stuff here. And the ending is one hell of an unexpected cliffhanger.

      • {Throwing down the MIC} “What. that’s right, I wrote it”.
        That’s for Jeanette 🙂
        I’m glad you liked it, Shane. I was going to do the comb and tonic thing – but I knew Billy and Bobby had it covered!

        • Shane Arthur says:

          @Mitch: I just said to myself, “Dammit, Mitch! You HAVE to tell me more about how this ends!”

          • Shane, you’re funny. I leave the best of myself in these vignettes. I swear, nothing I add to them will be as satisfying as the initial burst.
            Heh. What innuendo.
            The only time I had something worthy, Sisterhood of the Void was born. But I love that you enjoy seeing beyond what is written.

    • Wow, powerful and a little scary.  My wife and I tried almost a whole year before we had our first so we had our own “why hasn’t this happened yet moments” and fortunately nothing wrong with either of us, our 2nd was conceived much faster.  Again both very planned, and deliberately intended.

      • KathleenL says:

        Mitchell — I am having trouble puttin the words to page… I don’t know if this is creative License to a real issue yah’ll had, but the humor you brought to a tough situation reads so well.

      • Justin, thanks for such great words. After I got past the urge to play with the “cats”, the actual piece developed from the word virility. I am glad that this story did not reflect reality for you.
        Do you read poetry to your kids?

        • Yes I do, in fact my 8 year old has been writing his own poems off and on since he was 4.  When he was 4 we recorded a poem we collaborated on together and put it on my blog > http://www.wandererthoughts.com/i-wish-for-a-fish/ listen to it.  This is my 4 year old reading it, he helped come up with most of it and I just helped him along.

          • That was really cut, Justin. Reminds me of some .WAVs we’ve saved on CD. It’s wonderful what a priceless gift we give our children – to creatively express themselves.

          • Yeah, I have some old recordings of their voices when they were toddlers and keep them as treasures.  As I do the holiday DVD’s where they opened their Xmas presents when they were 2, 3, 4, 5, 6…etc  I record every year and compile a longer “recap” DVD annually and they get a kick out of watching themselves through the years.

        • Of course that same boy is 8 years old now (Time fly’s)

    • Jeanette R. says:

      @Mitch. Jeanette approaches the abandoned stage, looks around and picks up the discarded microphone. Tap, tap.
      “Hey Mitch, I liked the male perspective on this piece. It can’t be easy for a man to have to do something like that. Society has put much emphasis on things a “Man” should be able to do and reproducing is pretty high on that list. I also liked how you were able to communicate some of the inner workings of this matrimony. Well done, sir!”
      Drops mic, sashays away.

      • Frank Ruiz says:

        Mitch, I loved this piece, and you and I were inspired in similar ways when we saw today’s words 🙂

      • Woot! Work it, Jeanette, work. it! LOL
        Thanks for your wonderful compliments. This vignette contains remnants of unfounded fear from my past. It joins the fear of flying as another member of the unwarranted worries. I suppose we all imagine the worst, when we just don’t know…

    • Jen says:

      I loved every bit of this, but I gotta say, a well placed F bomb is like balm to my weary soul. I mean, really. I don’t use it very often, and when it is used for a very clear reason in writing, I just want to do a little dance. Loved. It.

    • Dee says:

      ummm holy crow – Vernon and Helena??? Gaaah, I don’t know what it is about names but I have this picture in my mind (and stop that – not THAT kind of picture!) Her in a hat and faded house dress, him in overalls and boots all covered in cow patties….
      We were married for ten years and didn’t think we could have any children. Planned a trip to Hawaii for our tenth anniversary and instead of beaches I got a son.  Nineteen months later a daughter.  Seven kids??? Oh my…

      • Dee, you are too funny. Hold up, y’all didn’t get to go to Hawaii? I was about to write that I couldn’t think of a more romantic way to get in the family way, but, oh well. Yay, right?
        Yes, indeed. Seven little darlings.

        • Dee says:

          @Mitch – nope! No Hawaii. My oldest is 21 and when I get irritated with him I give him “the look” and mutter “I could have gone to Hawaii…”  lol

    • @Mitch. I love the sudden change in tone. And you can really tell when it shifts  Helena seems more polite and Vernon leans towards the gritty. Just the stark difference. It’s pretty awesome.

      • Hey, Matt! Thanks. You know, I love it when a reader shares an interpretation or perspective that I had neither planned nor noticed. That’s a pretty neat way of looking at the flow!

  3. Jeanette R. says:

    “Forgive me Father, for I have sinned. It’s been one week since my last confession.” 

    The damp, makeshift booth reeked of rotting wood.  The tornado that ripped through the town last month left the church no choice than to move its services into the basement.  The weathering of the catacombs had parishioner’s reluctant to attend their weekly confessions.

    She ran her fingers along the gelatinous walls. To placate her parents, Amanda had promised she would attend church weekly. Father Murphy’s impressive catatonic positioning only gave him away when he exhaled.

    “Father, I’ve decided to keep my baby.  Everyone has given me their advice and what their decisions would be, but I don’t care.”  Amanda grabbed the bottom of her chair and dragged it closer.  She feared her mother could hear her in the next room.  Her erroneous lesson from last confession led to a weeklong fight with her parents.

    Amanda crossed her fingers and hoped that the priest could hear her whispers. “They tell me that you agree with them.  That you don’t think I should have this baby so young. Is that true, Father?”

    His innocuous voice was in stark contrast to his virility.  “My child, you are fourteen years old.  Your parents are followers of God and very active in the church.  How could the men’s group look to your father for advice?  Say ten Hail Mary’s and ten Our Father’s. I know that God will speak to your heart and allow you to decide wisely.”

    Walking past the room where services were being held she saw her mother kneeling, praying.  She wondered if she was asking for permission or forgiveness.  

    Opening the door, rays of sunlight crushed her vision.  The advent of her future danced inside her head, cracking the doubt that lay heavy on her chest.

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Jeanette: Wonderful … on many levels.

      • Jeanette R. says:

        @Shane. Thanks.  I’m keeping my stories under 305 words cause I’m going to enter one of them into a writing contest. They plan to read the best stories on our local NPR station.  *super geeked up*

    • Very powerful imagery, I can see myself in the scene like a fly on the wall.  Interesting how two in a row related to pregnancy (or getting there).

      • KathleenL says:

        Jeanette — I will echo Justin… felt a kin to being a fly on the wall. And the wonder of things to come out of this storyline… it’s a powerful beginning if you choose to expand upon it.

    • Jen says:

      That last paragraph is simply outstanding. On the whole, it put a knot of empathy in my stomach, but the last paragraph. Whoa.

    • Wow! Another grand-slam from the incomparable Jeanette! Setting the scene as you did lends an appropriate air to the nature of the confession.
      There is one passage that stands out:
      Walking past the room where services were being held she saw her mother kneeling, praying.  She wondered if she was asking for permission or forgiveness.

      That really speaks volumes: my wife shared a silly snippet from Perez Hilton dot com. Something to do with a 16 year-old bride and her 51 year-old husband. She mentioned that the parents had to consent to the nuptials. Not being the judgmental type, I still had to pause. I suppose that comes with having a 17 year-old daughter 🙂

    • Dee says:

      this line “His innocuous voice was in stark contrast to his virility.” gave me shivers…was I being crazy or was that hinting of something sinister?  I watch too much nightly news…
      Either way – it is a powerful write.  Kudos on the story and I will cross fingers and toes for you 🙂

    • “Your parents are followers of God and very active in the church.  How could the men’s group look to your father for advice?”
      Great observation. Why is there so much advice towards protecting reputation? The best stories help us see the mundane in a new light. Thank you for shining the light!

  4. Here is my own contribution which I just wrote.

    These advent children
    governed by innocuous design
    gelatinous and erroneous
    weathering decisions furnished
    by disconnected catatonic parents
    the spark of virility sapped daily
    by another game to placate life
    a parents home now reduced
    to little more than catacombs

  5. Rebecca says:

    @ Shane … Oh boy! Billy and Bobby discussing bellybuttons made my Monday.

  6. Rebecca says:

    @ Mitch … Talk about a story filled with imagery; I was blushing! Lol … BTW: Helena is one of my favorite names — great character name.

  7. Rebecca says:

    @ Jeanette … Wow! That brought me back to my Catholic school days — no longer practicing. I would love to know what’s underneath the church’s catacombs. Nicely done!

  8. Rebecca says:

    @ Justin … I loved the last part about the ‘parents.’ I should have my mom read your story.

  9. Rebecca says:

    The advent of fall season sends her into depression or a catatonic state,
    Decisions are difficult to make when one checks out of her life.
    Her depression throws her into the catacombs of her mind where she placates her feelings.
    Weathering the storm of the holiday season becomes a tedious chore.
    She believes her depression isn’t innocuous – this is erroneous,
    She’s in her own little world where she doesn’t have to take responsibility.
    Her children’s feelings become gelatinous; they absorb everything around them.
    Virility leaves her children, and they become numb and downtrodden.

    • A real downer, sometimes I feel depressed thinking about the upcoming holiday gift shopping too!

    • Jen says:

      The older I get, the older my children get, I fear we’ve lost some of the magic (if you will) of the holidays. To what degree is a parent responsible for creating happy holiday memories if at all?

    • This is heavy, Rebecca. I can’t speak for all of the causes of holiday depression, but I wonder if an imbalance in parents’ emphasis on the commercialistic side has anything to do with it.
      Not talking out of school here 😉

    • Jeanette R. says:

      @Rebecca.  This is so sad to me.  I have the absolute reverse reaction. This is my favorite time of the year because you have reasons to celebrate…and drink as much eggnog as your little bladder can handle.  I read a book once about seasonal disorders and was amazed that it was an actual clinical term.

    • Dee says:

      I hate the commercial garbage that goes along with the holidays but I love the cooking and the kids coming home, a fire in the fireplace and a hot toddy…I have a close friend who lost her husband in the month of November and has gotten depressed to the point of it affecting her health every year since.  It has been nearly thirty years…

    • “She believes her depression isn’t innocuous – this is erroneous.”
      Thought provoking. I’m going to be thinking about this for the rest of the day now. But that’s what great writing makes you do. Thanks!

  10. Rebecca says:

    @ Justin … I agree. I think ‘fear’ keeps people trapped. They’re too afraid of what their family and friends will think or don’t want to lose them. I’d take the risk and let people fall away if they must.

  11. Rebecca says:

    @ Justin … True … Or, they have kids and the parents don’t want their grandchildren to suffer.
    BTW: I wrote today’s piece based on my sister who gets totally depressed around the holidays; I try not to let her bring me down. I admire people who take their families somewhere warm or exotic for Thanksgiving and or Christmas. Or, families who volunteer at a shelter or some other charitable organization. Change is good … No reason to keep having the same old, same old holiday fanfare.

    • Yeah, I know people who are stressed around holiday’s too.

      • KathleenL says:

        Rebecca — I used to love the holidays. They are now a struggle. All emotional. But such heaviness in my heart that it becomse physical. I didn’t used to be a depressed person… but it is a battle I shall fight this year… again. After all, I agree with you, no reason to have the same-old, same-old. So for Christmas this year… I will be moving my daughters and myself… oh and our dog too. Somewhere sunnier. Somewhere with Positiveness in it. a new house, yes, a new house is in order. I hope we find one by then as we need a change a bit positive change.

        • Frank Ruiz says:

          Great piece describing the struggles some face during the Holidays, and Kathleen,  I hope the change of scenery brings you a better Holiday season this year.

  12. KathleenL says:

    Mind-full Conversation
    –Next installment–

    Hi Lovie. It’s been a while. I know. I am sorry. Hey, last night your youngest sister said, “Hi there Ethan!” with much excitement and joy. The dog, jumped up out of her bed, ran out to the kitchen looking for you. Yes Lovie, she was excitedly looking for you. Oh, you saw that? Wonderful. It made Miss E sad, but our Saddie dog was so excited at the possibility of seeing you. It only brought smiles to my face. The dog would not have understood that Miss E was on FaceTime with yah’ll’s middle brother and your Name-sake. Nope.

    Sorry I have been a bit distant. I know. I have felt you here, with me. Thank you. The catacombs of my mind feel as if I am catatonic at times, especially of late. It is an erroneous undertow to the advent of dad’s decisions – first dissolution and now, within a 14 days switching to a divorce. He is using a bloody Mormon Board on this marriage; trying to get every drop of this marriage cleared out of his life as if it were grain in a trailer.

    True… my mind is reeling…  yet feeling gelatinous at times.

    I know Lovie. Most, 90 percent of all marriages where a child dies don’t survive. Well, weathering the storm of this is too much. Too much I say for all of us.  I hate to placate the end of my marriage to a man I still love with this statistic, but it is more than his virility at the base of the problems here.  It would be a lie if I said the guilt, albeit unwarranted, that your stepdad is imposing upon himself is innocuous… it is not, it is destructive and he cannot face us any longer. He is leaving us all to lean on thin empty air for God’s strength to carry us through.  But dad is unable to cope with it at all. I know. I see it too, Lovie.

    Yes, Love, dad’s love for you is real. All three of you know that. I am proud of that. Just wish he knew, deep down inside, that he was, no is, yah’ll’s dad. And a good man, but, as you now see more than you saw from down here… there are other battles dad is fighting… I hate it that our marriage is just another causality to Glen’s wrongful actions. The wake of a murderer is… big. I wonder when it will stop.

    • Frank Ruiz says:

      “He is using a bloody Mormon Board on this marriage; trying to get every drop of this marriage cleared out of his life as if it were grain in a trailer.”
      Wow, what a powerful sentence in an equally powerful piece!  Bravo!

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Kathleen: I’ll say a prayer that you have happy days to come soon. Hard to believe all this happened.

      • KathleenL says:

        Frank – -Thanks I am glad it was felt by you as I felt it (so it seems).

        Shane – I know… right. What a year, huh. And the hits just keep coming.
        But… I can’t blame the hubby too much. Murder and even just death of a child is too much… even if we had had a more perfect relationship. Sigh.
        It is time to pull in tight. To honor the children, even if he/the hubby cannot join me in this part of life. I will continue to be me. Continue to stand up with my girls for my son. My path sure is changing, but this will make great fodder for a novel or so… sadly it will.

        But, I shall get job out there… out West, again. I will. Yes I will. Okay, so this is my biggest worry LOL. But I will. 
        I will be closer to my aging folks. Get my girls back to where horses will make them smile. Because it’s not all about me. I will throw a leg across one of the… no I think there are two colts out there that I breed for and rased up. I will find the positives in it all. Some how. After all, I still have two beauties looking to me to see what I will do in the face of adversity. Can’t quit now… even though others can, it’s just not my way of go… not my path… the quiter’s path!

    • Kathleen, I feel so sad when I read these. And to have yet another burden heaped upon you. You seem to be a very strong woman, though. As long as it continues to help you cope, I’ll try not to be too sad – knowing that it is doing a little bit of good.

      • KathleenL says:

        Mitch — The sadness is mutual. But… today is a good day. I choose to believe my life it rock bottom last year… I am on an upswing now, LOL, or at least soon my friend. I shall try to be me through this all… not let the burdens of this life get me down. I don’t like depression and I shall pull myself up by my bootstraps and show my girls how to be strong. Try not to be too sad… and I will do the same.

    • Jeanette R. says:

      @KathleenL.  I am sorry to read about your marriage.  Even though I know what I’m reading is true, you put it into such honest words that it reads so easily.  I pray that there are better days to come.

      • KathleenL says:

        Jeanette– Thanks, for caring and for reading. I am hopeful that this turns into something that will be of use to someone before the days are done here. My goal is to always write from the base of where it all starts. You have complimented me so much to say “it reads so easily.” Do not worry, I don’t want it to be hard for anyone to read.  And thanks for the Prayers… they will help. Things WILL GET BETTER, as I noted to Mitch… I am gonna believe my life hit rock bottom last year and I am on the upswing.

    • This is the first installment I’ve read.  Powerful stuff.  Very powerful.

      • KathleenL says:

        Carson — thanks for stopping in and reading it. Glad the words make others feel. There are more… and more to come.

    • Dee says:

      I am so sorry you are going through this.  I can’t imagine and all I can say is – you got my prayers.

      • KathleenL says:

        Dee — Thank you. Life is a challenge… I will admit that. But I Will Make It Through. And I will write about it. LOL

    • One thing is obvious about this. You speak straight from your heart. Keep it up and keep it strong. We’re all with you.

      • KathleenL says:

        Matt — thanks. I do say what what’s on my mind…even out loud.. although I do have a good filter. And thanks, the one thing has been true, since that fate filled day in Sept. 2010… (and truth be known… long before that) I am blessed to have the CCC Family in my corner.

  13. Anne Wayman says:

    I’m catatonic. My mind is gelatinous with the desire to placate. In the catacombs of my libido, your virility causes, well let’s say weathering. Seemingly innocuous decisions turn out to be erroneous, the advent of yet another personal disaster.

  14. Dad’s a study in bearded virility.  Mom is the Holy Mother of Aspen.  They’re on a mountaintop wearing bright orange down vests.  They have goggles perched on their heads and skis on their shoulders.  A honeymoon snapshot.

    I stare into their eyes.  I know it’s what my therapist would call “an erroneous belief”, but I think they knew I’d come into the world.  And that I’d find a way to destroy everything.

    The piss smell goes away.

    I’m in the tunnels. I call them the catacombs.  

    They’re scary.   I’m dragging Maxine behind me.
    I’m in trouble.

    Mom and dad are screaming from somewhere.  It’s cold.  I did something wrong and there’s a lot of water.


    Thanksgiving is history.  Leftover gravy, now gelatinous, bobs and weaves every time I open the refrigerator and Grandma’s stuffing is starting a third life as savory salmonella-ridden crouton heap right next to it.

    Grandma unrolls an ugly felt Advent calendar and hangs it where the ugly felt turkey took over for the ugly felt jack-o-lantern.  She plugs old butterscotch hard candies with weathering silver wrappers in every slot.

    One for me.  One for my sister.

    The candies aren’t an effort to placate sugar-hooked kiddies waiting for Santa to make his appearance.  They aren’t Grandma’s tricky way to bribe us into decisions for Christ, either.

    This isn’t an innocuous holiday decoration.

    It’s cruelty.

    Grandma doesn’t love me anymore.

    My sister, Maxine, sits in a pool of piss.  Grandma can smell it.  I can smell it.  One of us will eventually surrender and will change her diaper. It’s been this way for six years.

    Maxine stares out the foggy window at snow. She turns twelve today.  She’s catatonic.

    Grandma is talking.

    Maxine loved these candies.
    Your mother loved them, too.

    • Mmmm, Gelatinous gravy….

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Carson: Holy shit, man! YOUR BEST YET BY FAR! You have to tell me which word sparked this idea and tell me more of what you were thinking with this. Awesome.

      • I started with “gelatinous” and tried to find a quick tie to “advent”.   I wrote around those two paragraphs.
        The idea, which sort of popped out as a whole after that, came from the combined impression of the list.  “Catacombs” and using the capital-A “Advent” somehow created a quasi-religious mood for me.  “Catatonic” suggested something tragic.
        One of the cool things about these puzzles is the way you can work fast with an idea…  And then discover how different your output is from the initial vision.  What I ended up tapping out is fairly far-removed in terms of mood and temperature than what I held in my head after writing those initial paragraphs.
        I need to remember to stop by more consistently.  These babies are always fun.

    • Jen says:

      Grandma’s mean. Wow. Loved the repetition of “ugly,” and the bobbing and weaving gravy. Reminiscent of the first scene, hiding in the tunnels. Well done.

      • Thanks, Jen.  Personally, the gravy thing seems a little out of place to me after revisiting it.  That’s probably because I wrote that paragraph first, before I knew what was really going to become of the whole exercise!  I hadn’t thought about a connection between running in the tunnels and the leftovers.  Neat!

    • Holy crap! I read this the first time. Came back and read it more deeply the second time. Awesome is just the beginning of the string of adjectives reserved for this story.
      You put the show in show, not tell.
      Well done!

    • Jeanette R. says:

      @Carson.  This is great!  I read it a few times to properly digest the story.  Revealing the sister being catatonic was a incredible twist.  Love the writing!

    • Dee says:

      wow – talk about depressing holidays.  Love this piece and that last sentence just gave me goosebumps. I could almost see a sly smile on grandma’s face…Again, wow!

    • I like your style. Going from abstract thinking to a very detailed, concrete story. Nicely done.

  15. Frank Ruiz says:

    Although some argue how erroneous it is, some women judge their partners’ virility solely on the gelatinous deposits left in the catacombs of their insides.  Family-planning decisions which can last generations are made from this one criterion, weathering all sorts of counter-arguments from those poor souls who just don’t measure up.  With the advent of increased scientific testing, some men are placated by the hope that their worthiness can be based on more than what shoots out of them.  Those lucky souls come to view the ways they’re judged as another innocuous part of the dance mates take to find each other.  For others, especially those feeling the sting of rejection that’s left them passed over, there’s no consoling them, and they’re doomed to spend their days in a woefully catatonic state.

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Frank: I busted out laughing at the end of that first sentence. Now THAT’S the correct way to come out of the literary gate squirting…figuratively speaking!

    • Jen says:

      Um, yeah. What Shane said.

    • Jeanette R. says:

      @Frank. You. Broke. It. Down.  “Catacombs of their insides.” Genius!

    • Frank, way to go! I suppose you and I have done our part to shed some light on a touchy subject, eh? My favorite line is
      weathering all sorts of counter-arguments from those poor souls who just don’t measure up.
      I totally get that.  It’s along the same lines as the inexplicable attraction some women have for roughnecks. Shane explained it to me with that link whose name I never remember without looking it up. Alpha males and all that.
      Great job, man!

      • Frank Ruiz says:

        Thanks, Mitch, and yeah, with the mating game, it seems like a perversion of “The Law of Attraction”: Those who act like they don’t want it seem to be the best at getting it 🙂

    • There’s a lot of clever in that first sentence.  Amazing way to connect the word list’s dots!

    • Dee says:

      catacombs of their insides??  Laughed out loud at that! Ewww lol – love how you took everything down to this scientific view lol – poor guys!  Oh my!

  16. Jen says:

    I used to think staring at a blinking computer screen all day was a fairly innocuous task. I mean, I sit here day after day, drinking sludge from the same tainted mug, encrusted with powdered dairy product, the lights flickering above making me and my three cubicle mates appear like withered and jaundiced babies. I had assumed that there was no cushier job that pushing buttons on a keyboard while being plied with under-baked, gelatinous pastries; again, as is the story of my pathetic life, an erroneous assumption.
    And so we sit, weathering the hours from eight to four like planks wrenched from the side of a beaten down barn.  We are nearly catatonic by lunchtime, so when the hot new chick from the lab asks us to help her track down some old data sheets, we become lost in a sea of decisions. We babble like pubescents for ten minutes, each of us lobbying to be the lucky SOB to descend into company catacombs with this…woman. She stands in her impossibly hight heels, staring at the ceiling while we make idiots of ourselves. Finally, she says, “Listen. I gotta get this done. For all I care, you can all come with me if it means one of you gets off your ass.”
    I can’t blame a desire to placate her for the sudden appearance of my virility; I’m not fooling anyone. I shoot out of my chair, glaring at the others, daring them with my laser pointed eyes to just try and talk me down. They are weak and I know they will surrender the task to me, as long as I bring juicy tidbits back to them. While this stupid job is nothing to be proud of, because of this job, I now know what heralded the advent of machismo: woman.

    • Jeanette R. says:

      @Jen This took me back to when I worked in an office with nothing but men. I was the ONLY female on staff. It was a meat market.

      But I have to tell you, there was no cattiness or drama.  Guys speak their minds and move on.  Quite the concept 😉

      • Frank Ruiz says:

        Jen, your way with words continues to wow me!  “…the lights flickering above making me and my three cubicle mates appear like withered and jaundiced babies.”  I’ll never look at my fellow cubicle-dwellers the same 🙂

    • Jen, you tore this up! From a super-cool description of the bleakness of office life, to the powerfully authentic depiction of under-sexed nerds, to the glare at the end. I loved it!
      I don’t know if it was on purpose but, the tangential treatment of the female character, dismissed as “the hot new chick” in impossibly high heels, adds to the testosterone-fueled farce.

    • Big bonus points for this:  “planks wrenched from the side of a beaten down barn”
      Great line.

    • Dee says:

      I actually cringed at the vision of the coffee and the lighting – I have been in that office lol.

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Jen: Office Space mixed with Sex In The City. I likey!

    • “I sit here day after day, drinking sludge from the same tainted mug, encrusted with powdered dairy product”
      @Jen, This reminds me, I need to start laying off the coffee. I like the tone you used to describe everything. Sure does put a dark shadow over the office job though.

  17. Rebecca says:

    @ Mitch … Some people can’t stand the holidays because of ‘crappy’ childhood memories such as drunken relatives/parents, fist fights, etc. But my feeling is … As an adult, a person can ‘choose’ to enjoy the holidays and forget the past and create new, happy memories.

    @ Jen … My mom would like to go away for the holidays but some people in the family think it’s a terrible idea. Not me … I’d love to stick my toes in the sand and hike a mountain. Lol!

  18. margaret says:

    Will a man go catatonic when you want to stay platonic?
    Will it challenge his virility when you require agility?
    And is it quite erroneous to expect a life harmonious?
    How many men can you placate while you select which one to date?

    The catacombs are filled with ladies who filled their days with “maybes”
    and also innocuous men who spent time wondering “when”?
    Does weathering indecisions and rigid inhibitions cause gelationous brain conditions?
    We should not waste the advent of our youth till we’ve all grown long in tooth!

  19. Dee says:

    Jae ran through the catacombs making decisions on twists and turns based on memories.  She had lived here in human form before she met Aedan.  Weathering the change from the forest to this place had made them both nearly catatonic. She missed the woods and the smell of snow on mountains. With the advent of Lucia’s reign, they were no longer safe.

    Jae heard Aedan in her head. “Hmmmph, I could have kept up just fine in human form!”

    Jae sped into a tunnel on the left. “Relax, your virility was never in question.  I knew you would follow my scent and we would make better time.”

    “Are we getting close?” Aedan made one erroneous step and slid through something gelatinous. “What the??”

    “These are tombs, Aedan.”  The stench assaulted her delicate nose.

    She could hear faint growls ahead. “Almost there.” She hoped that would placate him.  She heard a crunching noise behind her and turned to look. Aedan had disappeared.  Jae skidded to a stop and carefully retraced her steps. She heard Aedan whine. She looked over the edge of a jagged hole. Rotten dirt covered boards had given way as Aedan crossed.

    “Aedan!”  The wolf moaned.

    “Aedan don’t change.  Hold on, I’ll get help!”  Jae took off down the tunnel toward the barking sounds.  After a series of barks the pack followed her back to where Aedan lay, now very still. 

    “Aedan, I’m coming!”  All around the tunnel sounds echoed as the fur disappeared and flesh and bone remolded itself.  Jae had always been able to change quickly and she was the first to assume human form.  She looked around and one of the pack ran up with rope in his mouth.  She tied it around her waist as the last wolf changed.  The walls were not smooth. She could see dark places that looked like side caverns.  Ryall took hold of the rope and nodded at her as he passed the rest of the rope behind him.  Anchored by the rest of the pack, Jae started the climb down to Aedan.  He was whining again and Jae hoped that meant his wolf form was helping to heal. 

    Safely at the bottom of the passage, Jae knelt next to the wolf.  She felt for breaks and was relieved to find none. She stroked his fur.  “Aedan, come on. We made it!”  Aedan opened his eyes and nosed her hand.

    “Can you stand?”  Jae moved away a little.  Aedan struggled to his feet, whining. 

    “Is he okay?” Ryall and the rest of the pack looked down at them. Jae nodded her head and then realized it was probably too dark for them to see her.

    “I think so but I’m not sure I can get him back up.  We’ll try one of the side passages down here and find you.”

    Ryall tossed a sack down to her.

    “Thanks Ryall!  Thanks all of you!  Wait in the hall and we’ll meet you later! ” Jae found a torch in the sack along with an apple and a freshly killed rabbit.  Ryall knew Aedan would need to eat. Healing took a lot of energy. The apple was for her. She put the rabbit down in front of Aedan and sat down by the wall to eat her apple.  Glancing around, she wondered why they had never found this place when she was here with her family.  Remembering her family made her sad.  Aedan made quick work of the rabbit and Jae brushed herself off. 

    “Ready?”  Jae nodded her head at the side cavern and Aedan started walking. Jae took a last thoughtful look. It seemed innocuous but she shivered anyway. She knew from experience that death lurked in more than the ancient coffins. She wished she could see the moon.

  20. […] Written for Creative Copy Challenge 187 […]

  21. The first and last sentences are extremely strong.  Way to open–and to close!

  22. The first and last sentences are extremely strong.  Way to open–and to close!

  23. “Tell me again. Where did you find the shiny sphere?” asked the crouching, old man.
    “I already said two times,” said the child, sitting in his chair.
    “Just say it.” He stood and crossed his arms. “I can’t make any erroneous conclusions.”
    “Arrow what?”
    “Erroneous. I don’t want to make a mistake. Now, where did you find it?”
    The student looked down. “The first time I saw it, it was in the stream, but I didn’t pick it up.”
    “You have it now. How did you get it then?”
    “It was just sitting on my pillow when I woke up two mornings ago.”
    Arne raised a hand to his chin and whispered, “Oh no… The advent is upon us.”
    “What?” asked the child.
    Arne crouched back down beside the child. “Are you sure you didn’t pick it up?”
    “Yes, I’m sure.”
    The old man raised his eyebrows. “You just found it in your room one morning?”
    “Yes, two days ago.”
    Arne stood back up, began to pace and whispered to himself again, “It’s already making its choice. But the child is so innocent and innocuous. It can’t be his time yet.”
    The boy stood up and went to stand by the old man. “What are you doing?”
    “I’m thinking.”
    “About what?”
    The old man stopped and thought for a moment. “We are going to have to make some big decisions in the next few days. The shiny sphere is already sensing your virility.”
    “My what?”
    “It knows you’re changing. Even I can see it.” Arne knew that many men resting in the catacombs, though their corpses may be weathering away from the elements over the years, had their souls ripped away from them by spheres very much like the one the boy now possessed.
    “But I’m only nine!” protested the boy
    “It doesn’t matter. It seems to want you now. I will look deeper into the matter. Until then, we must placate the shiny sphere. Carry it around with you wherever you go. If you don’t your body may become catatonic.”
    The old man’s legs felt gelatinous just thinking about it.

    • Jeanette R. says:

      @Matt Nice work!  Do you plan to continue this? 

      This line is great: “Arne knew that many men resting in the catacombs, though their corpses may be weathering away from the elements over the years, had their souls ripped away from them by spheres very much like the one the boy now possessed.” 

      I hope this 9 year old is ready for this 😉

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Matt: Such a cool, cool story. Continue!

  24. Dee says:

    eery spooky good stuff – perfect for this time of year 🙂

  25. Rebecca says:

    @ Jeanette … I never heard of seasonal disorder until a few years ago. It’s quite interesting. Some psychologists advise people to purchase sun lamps to have during the winter months.

    @ Dee … I agree with you about how commercial the holiday season is. Thankfully, some radio stations are holding off on playing holiday music until after Thanksgiving.

    @ Matt … Thank you! I do believe all of us have the power to ‘shift’ our lives if we really wanted to. I do believe it comes down to ‘fear.’ It’s amazing how powerful a simple four-letter word can be.

  26. Jake says:

    The nostalgic thoughts of his past kept Howard up late into the night.  Played over and over again, the scenes ran through the landscape of his mind like a Buster Keaton movie.  Silently flickering on his psyche’s screen, choppy bits of his life flashed in a juxtaposed collage of “This is Your Life”.  Haunted by his past, nostalgia slowly morphed into a dark cloud of melancholy until he lay there in a state of complete self-loathing.  The thoughts were erroneous enough, but in Howard’s mind, there was no escape from his perceived failures of his past.  Carl’s accident was his fault.  Carol’s recent indifference toward him was caused by his continuous alienation.  His inability to develop any sort of plan for his future.  His alcoholism.  His anger.  His fear.  His life.  He walked through these catacombs until just after 3am, finally getting up from his feeble attempts at sleep.

    In a somewhat catatonic state, Howard wandered into the den.  The light was dim and yellowish, covering the room in an eerie glow.  The light emanated from DenonCrop and reminded him that work would come soon and most unwelcomed it would be.  Only three hours from now he would begin the laborious task of getting ready for work and walk the walk one more time.  The advent of another day filled with decisions and indecision.  Acceptance and rejection.  Peace and fear.  Hope and lack there of.  One more day.  One more collection of hours.  Minutes.  Seconds.  1. 2. 3.  It was only time.  It was all relative.

    “Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin, into the future.” Howard muttered under his breath.  The words crept out of his mouth in an attempt to placate the reality that bound him firm and fast.  “How true the words and how cold the truth.”

    The thought of weathering through yet another day was too overwhelming for Howard at that particular moment.  He walked toward the kitchen, reached for a glass, filled it with ice and poured the vodka that would numb reality like a warm bath after being outside in the snow.  Cold and hard, the hand of intoxication covered him with each sip and his mind began to release its hold on reality.  Sitting down in his favorite chair, it hugged him in familiar embrace and he dosed off in a fitful sleep.

    The physical effects of his drinking were starting to catch up with Howard.  He was not as young as he once was, long ago when he was hired on at DenonCorp.  He felt it as he woke.  His virility waned as did yellow light that had filled the room hours before.  He sat up, stretched and groaned as each muscle pulled, each joint popped and each beat of his heart sent a throbbing reminder that the vodka was wearing off.  His mouth left gelatinous and slightly swollen and his eyes stung from forgetting to remove his contacts.  He walked to the bathroom, turned on the shower, took off his clothes and stood under the warm water.

    “Man, you’re something else, Howard.” he whispered.  “This is exactly where you thought you would end up twenty years ago, huh?  Nice job.”  Another day of innocuous self-deprecating had begun.  The water turned colder.  The light grew brighter.  The day grew one minute older.  Time had begun its daily creep into a future that was unsure. 
    “Aint it funny how time just slips right on away?”

  27. Jeanette R. says:

    Is anyone participating in Nanowrimo?  Has anyone tried it in the past?

  28. Kelly says:


    little decisions seem
    advent of another rock-on day, hey hey
    grab some pep from some
    one or other
    got pep?
    thinning hair
    gelatinous jowls
    half my moustache curls
    the other half sags, the great bilateral joke
    i should shave it off.
    no signs of virility here, ha ha
    i remember when i was gonna
    be some
    seems innocuous enough
    a little wife
    a little world domination
    a little cup
    of joy, wah wah
    placate me
    tell me it ain’t so bad, or
    hand me a tissue, will ya? while i cry fornevermore
    but you
    long gone
    dreams erroneous leading,
    as skin and form are weathering,
    to the inevitable catacombs
    of everyday

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