Writing Prompts – Creative Copy Challenge #213

Once again, the always-cool Chris Brogan chose today’s words. Show him what you’ve got.

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. Lethargy – A state of sluggishness, inactivity, and apathy
  2. Carbuncle – A painful localized bacterial infection of the skin and subcutaneous tissue that usually has several openings through which pus is discharged; A deep-red garnet, unfaceted and convex.
  3. Meritocracy – A system in which advancement is based on individual ability or achievement.
  4. Husbandry – The act or practice of cultivating crops and breeding and raising livestock; agriculture.
  5. Ornithopter – a heavier-than-air craft designed to be propelled through the air by flapping wings.
  6. Enclave – any small, distinct area or group enclosed or isolated within a larger one
  7. Barrister – lawyer
  8. Syncopated – A shift of accent in a passage or composition that occurs when a normally weak beat is stressed
  9. Detritus – Disintegrated or eroded matter; popular word with CCC word pickers
  10. Sumpter – A pack animal, such as a horse or mule.

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


100 Comments on “Writing Prompts – Creative Copy Challenge #213”

  1. Shane Arthur says:

    Someone challenged Chris in a tweet to do the words in one sentence, so I decided to try. I took liberties with the word Husbandry. Bobby and Billy will follow.
    Husbandry, the enclave of the lethargy-sumpter, pulls it’s carbuncled alpha-male-detritus in syncopated steps like a wounded wingless ornithopter seeking recognition for his meritocracy from his ex’s barrister.

  2. Chris Fries says:

    Wow — those are some tough words, LOL!

    I don’t think I’m the “Chris” who wanted the one-sentence response — instead, I wanted to try a “10×10” idea with them.  This is a concept where ten prompt words lead to ten sentences of ten words each, with the first prompt word the first word in the first sentence, the second prompt word the second word in the second sentence, and so forth.  AND — most importantly, the ten sentences have to be a unified whole which tell a story (or at least try to…)
    So with that in mind, here’s my 10×10 for today — tough words, like I said, but I managed to fit them in:

    “Thank You for Your Years of Service, But…”

    Lethargy was never his problem; he knew he wouldn’t grow

    a carbuncle on his ass from too much idle sitting.

    He expected meritocracy to prevail; knew he’d eventually be rewarded

    for his dedicated husbandry of countless creative and profitable projects.

    He wasn’t merely an ornithopter, passed over by the supersonic

    jets — he was in the enclave of stratospheric corporate performers.

    So he was stunned when the barrister delivered the letter.

    Reading the notification, his heart beat in syncopated, galloping shock.

    He was being swept aside like useless, forgotten detritus:  Downsized!

    Sent out to pasture like an aged and broken sumpter.

  3. The planet Earth bowed its head in a collective moment of silence for the passing of the French-born supreme arbiter. Sector Seven would soon be buzzing with a rare, syncopated political energy, as the legal brotherhood chose a barrister from its ranks to succeed the Honorable Jean-Paul Proust. At the moment, nothing more sentient than a mosquito broke the lethargy of the global memorial service.

    Victor snorted. “This is all bullshit, Ev. Those bastards are going to go into the enclave and play bridge for twenty-one days, and then miraculously announce their successor. What’s it going to take to restore the meritocracy system on this godforsaken rock?”

    Evelyn nodded in agreement. “The only thing missing is the white smoke.” She pushed a button next to her plate of half-eaten beef. The detritus of her meal was vaporized, the plate remolded itself into a sparkling bone-white china teacup and saucer. A few seconds later, hot steam swirled lazily up, carrying the scent of chamomile. Perhaps even the dinner service reflected the somber atmosphere of the small dormitory in which they sat, staring at the video screen.

    “Damn! Why didn’t you give me that, instead of wasting it? Kobe doesn’t grow on trees, you know. I spent 400 credits for three servings.” Victor knew he was being petty but, the crash of 2008 was fresh in his mind; he recalled his mother pressing bars of soap slivers together so that they could spend more money on food. He was rich now, but still psychologically penurious.

    Evelyn understood. She gave him that puppy-dog look that served as both an apology and a guilt-inducing retraction. Truthfully, she often felt the same way. Yet, unlike Victor’s past, hers was filled with the wretched excess of extreme wealth. Waste, for her was a sin of denial. Every coat hanging in cold storage represented a shivering homeless person. These days, however, she hated that Victor threw it in her face, even if it was unintentional. She held his gaze for a moment, before continuing the discussion.

    “The local newspapers are predicting that Nora Borges, heir to the Pampas Asado empire, is the front-runner.”

    For the second time that evening, Victor snorted. “From the humble roots of husbandry rises the greatest legal mind of the 21st century. Nora Borges, heir to the Pampas Asado empire, spent her formative years in the shadow of her father’s general counsel…”

    Ev laughed, delighted that he had taken the time to memorize the piece. That she had written it for her employer just two days prior only heightened the thrill of having been read by her lover. It wasn’t until she had erased the crinkle of merriment from her eyes that she noticed Victor’s lack of reciprocation.

    “What’s wrong? Didn’t you like it?”

    “I did not. You are becoming a sell-out. You used to be a carbuncle on that ass of a newspaper. Now, you’re its Dainti-wipe! You had a real chance, here. Why didn’t you go for her throat?”

    Evelyn was stunned into tears. Victor was vocal, but never hurtful. He was the one who had convinced her to use her considerable connections to wangle a virtual seat on the rim – the powerful clique of copy editors at the Mercy Daily Journal. She had skillfully pushed through many of the stories important to The Cause.

    However, she couldn’t change the evolution of the reading demographic – gone were the days of the grassroots organizers, seeking explosive exposés with which to fuel their grievances. The MDJ now catered to a more voyeuristic audience – one more likely to experience the world vicariously. She thought Victor had understood this.

    “I am a realist. I leave the code words in there, for those few who might still be reading. Face it, Victor, our time for action has passed. It’s tough to swallow but, look at you! You’re fifty years old. Are you going to take a baton for The Cause? You may pass one, but I doubt you have the balls to absorb one.”

    Victor was incensed. Part of it, of course, was the harsh reality of the truth she had just splashed in his face. Yet, his lizard brain was fully awake and enjoying the carnage.

    “You are avoiding the question, dear. The Argentine Sumpter Scandal was tailor-made for a political besmirching. Jackson had traced those exported horses back to Pampas and Borges knew about it!”

    “I know something about the whole affair, Victor: Nora Borges has been instrumental in working with the horse meat lobby, the animal rights lobby, the World Farm Subsidy Agency and the most high supreme arbiter himself. Her monumental success overshadows any impropriety on the part of her financial holdings, which are in blind trust, anyway! She has plausible deniability to go along with that 1,000-watt smile and ersatz charm. The story would never fly.”

    Victor was not mollified. “Better a story limping on the wings of an ungraceful ornithopter, than a report shot down like a clay pigeon. Mercy Daily isn’t some backwater publication – it has servers in eight of the ten sectors! The word would have reached the right people before now. Hundreds of people ate that tainted meat! Not everyone is privileged to eat Kobe… Eh, the hell with it. It’s too late.”

    The video screen beeped twice. The moment of silence had ended.

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Mitch: You know what I’m going to say, so I won’t say it!

    • Chris Fries says:

      OK, I’ll say it:  Wow — wonderful, Mitch!!!

      I love the concept, the setting, and the voice.  There are so many great details — All this heated discussion takes place during a “moment of silence”, the ‘enclave’ picking the successor and how it mirrors the selection of the pope (“white smoke”), the Kobe beef, the fine-tuned backstory of the characters (‘crash of 2008’ and Victor’s history vs the wealthy past of Evelyn), and just so many others.

      Engrossing, entertaining, and very skillfully crafted, Mitch!  I really  look forward to reading more of this story (But:  You also have to get Lizbeth out of that body-strewn conference room, too — Don’t leave me hanging on that one!)!

      • Thanks, Chris. Mr. Brogan really puts the cards on the table, doesn’t he? 🙂
        Lizbeth took one look at today’s words and hid in the credenza…
        I’m glad you enjoyed this one. I had a bit of fun with the contrasts, as you noticed.

    • Anne Wayman says:

      Love the opening – “The planet Earth bowed its head in a collective moment of silence for the passing of the French-born supreme arbite”

  4. Chris Fries says:

    (EDIT: Ooops — orphan comment! This was meant as a reply to Mitch’s story above… I’ve re-pasted it there.)

  5. Dilly says:

    The carbuncle on my arm has stemmed a meritocracy of doctor visits, as I continue in my quest for a diagnosis that will satisfy my barrister in making his (most probably) syncopated claim. He’ll look at with his typical air of husbandry and treat me with the respect he grants a sumpter -at most.  And then, while picking at the detritus under his fingernails, and flicking it through the air like a flittering ornithopter, he’ll blame me and my lethargy for all the world’s predicaments. Me, I won’t even bother to defend myself. I’ll crawl quietly into my enclave and desperately scratch at my arms and moan. 

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Dilly: That was AWESOME! Had me chuckling with this one. Welcome to the CCC. Hope to see you each Monday and Thursday too. Let us know what you thought of the challenge.
      Everyone welcome Dilly to our dally.

    • Chris Fries says:

      Very nice, Dilly!  I love the scene you fit the words into.  Excellent job.
      And welcome to the CCC!

    • Welcome to the CCC, Dilly! I enjoyed reading – and the re-reading with dawning understanding – your submission. It wasn’t until the final sentence that I realized what was up. That prompted a re-read.
      See you tomorrow, I hope!

  6. Evelyn Eury says:

    He didn’t know when the lethargy had first set in but the Barrister suspected that after years of working in the corporate enclave known as the Mergers and Acquisitions Department of the prestigious law firm he slaved daily for, that this condition had been developing for quite some time. The practice of law, a proclaimed meritocracy by competitive associates and rich partners, had, after months of document review and pleadings drafting, left his brain the equivalent of detritus. Still, he somehow managed to lean back in his chair and imagine a different life, one free of mental decay and the constant feeling that he was but another sumpter or workhorse. Tapping his foot to a syncopated jazz tune that wafted in from a non-equity office down the hall, he closed his eyes and saw himself flying out that very window like an ornithopter. Thinking of soaring above the skies free as a bird, he realized he needed to shake of his corporate shackles and prevent carbuncles from forming on his fingers due to overuse at the keyboard. But what career transition to make? Perhaps he would relocate to Texas and raise horses… the idea of husbandry had always interested him.

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Evelyn: I love your style. Great first submission. And to do what you did with a challenging word list too. Welcome to our club. Hope to see you back each Monday and Thursday.
      Everyone welcome Evelyn to the addiction. What did you think of the challenge btw?

    • Chris Fries says:

      Fabulous job of using these tough words, Evelyn!  I like how well you brought out the emotion and inner thoughts of your character.
      And welcome to the CCC!

    • Welcome to the CCC, Evelyn. You made my fingers hurt. LOL ewww, carbuncles.
      Maybe your character can move to Cincinnati, unless he wants to get out of law, altogether.

  7. Rick Lombardo says:

    It is nearly midnight, and lethargy is getting the best of me after a measly hour of failed meritocracy. Time for me to escape my tiny enclave for a last refreshment of the night before my brain transforms to mere detritus. Our dorm snack area was just down the glass corridor to the left of my room. What is that noise – distant pounding coming from behind me, but a muffled thumping and beating from outside… and now somehow syncopated? Crash. Behind me on the floor – shards of glass and what appeared to be scattered carbuncles throughout. A second crash, this time much harder, as if an ornithopter had to make landing through the very hallway I needed to make my way through. Now I see it. And it is not a machine, but a product of our school’s animal husbandry college. Not a sumpter, but a 1500 lb bull that ultimately made its way into the one dorm room that had been left open and remained trapped there through the night. Time to touch base with my barrister. True story.

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Rick: True story! Wholy bleep! That’s quite a story.
      Welcome to the CCC and thanks for sharing. Hope to see you here each Monday and Thursday.
      What are your thoughts on the challenge?
      Everyone welcome Rick to the fun.

    • Chris Fries says:

      Great posting, Rick!  So you’re saying your bull story isn’t just a bunch of bull?  😉
      Welcome to the CCC!

      • Rick Lombardo says:

        @Shane @Chris:  It is a real story – and most of the news reports had some spin on the “bull” part of it “student gets bum steer” or “no bull” etc.  I do have a question – did I cheat by using the words against a true story?  My guess is that it is a different approach when coming up with a story line FROM the words.  Still interesting to place the words into my “known” story as an exercise.  Also, being that this was my first time – I feel resistance when I incorporate the “word(s)” – I want it to appear seamless, but somehow I feel that the sentences seem contrived.  In other words, most of my “thinking” went to the usage as opposed to the construction of the storyline alone.  Anyone else have that experience?

        • Shane Arthur says:

          @Rick: The ultimate goal of CCC is kicking writer’s block’s ass and ruling your muse as opposed to it ruling you. If you write ANYTHING and hit submit, you just kicked writer’s block’s ass and told your muse it will cooperate when instructed.

          Think of the 10 words as writer’s block and your muse throwing obstacles into your way. The better you can work those into your story, the more you can laugh at their feeble attempts to stop you from writing – icing on the cake, if you will. So you have to consider contrived in context. It’s contrived if you’re on your own and have no problem writing stories, but not so within the CCC walls. And think of it this way; a contrived sentence beats writer’s block and a stubborn muse; no sentence means you lost.

          P.S. You didn’t cheat. Write whatever you want.

        • Chris Fries says:

          Yeah, I get it.  A writer’s harshest critic is always the voice between their ears.
          But one of the definitions of “contrived” is “deliberately created”.  And “deliberately creating” a piece of writing is the only way to do it — the idea that it “just magically happens naturally” is a myth and a lie:
          It Don’t Happen That Way!!!  Ever. To ANY writer.  Sometimes it comes easier than other times, but it only comes through the writer’s dedicated and deliberate action of putting words together on the page.
          And here at the CCC, there is no way to “cheat” as long as you’re doing your own creating — the only cheating is plagiarism.  Whatever you make yourself is all good.
          So contrive away, my friend!

    • Heh, truth will always be stranger than fiction. Welcome to the CCC, Rick!
      I hope the bull didn’t mess your stuff up too badly. It probably just wanted some china.

  8. Anne Wayman says:

    It wasn’t surprising Barrister, my sumpter was moving with great lethargy. After all he had a carbuncle on his left hind hoof.
    So much for good husbandry, but we had to get to the enclave before the orinthopter found us.  We’d heard its syncopated sound as it searched through the detritus of the country we stumbled through. “I have to keep moving no matter what,” he’d groaned as he plodded forth.
    The fact he even continued was evidence our meritocracy breeding system was working.

  9. One of my rarer Short Story entries, for some reason Ornithopter made me think of Frank Herbert’s Dune series and I decided to create my own little short story inside that Universe.

    If you know Dune you will get all the references.

    The mechanical sumpter known as an ornithopter was their target. These people known as the Fremen needed no barrister to find justice. The meritocracy of the Harkonens must be dealt a decisive blow.

    The Fremen crept while moving closer, silently as a whisper. Harkonnens exhibited lethargy in the mid-day sun while loading cargo crates full of Spice Mélange into the flying transport. They were miles away from the nearest enclave and had little awareness to the dangers approaching from all sides.

    Larz the commander who dreamed of being at home on Geidi Prime where he used to specialize in moon fungi husbandry. The cool swampy air much more preferable to the arid desert that made his skin feel cracked and chaffed no matter how much lotion and lubricant he applied to his aching body.

    When syncopated voices started erupting from all around his men, Larz instinctively grabbed his blaster pistol. Unfortunately his futile attempt was little match for the feral like warriors who seemed more like wraiths than men.

    Blades twirled threw the air and found exposed necks like darts striking a board. More Fremen closed the gap with spongepads to absorb the blood to ensure none spilled into the greedy sands. One Harkonnen who was still on board the Ornithopter managed to start the engine, it’s beating wings creating a cloud of choking dust around everyone.

    Meanwhile, the last living Harkonnen fell dead on the ground without even knowing what had hit him. Fremen closed around the last bodies like ants as they looked up at the escaping Ornithopter with frustration.

    Except when one of the Fremen removed his mask and revealed a wicked smile. His name was D’Angen and he was the leader of this squad. He picked up one of the Harkonnens blaster rifles and aimed it toward the Ornithopter firing several times. The blasts hit their mark and the Ornithopter’s engine exploded sending shrapnel and shards everywhere. A cloud of orange spice dust lingered in the air where the craft once floated just a moment before.

    Wreckage crashed into the desert landscape standing out like a festering carbunkle. Detritus would be lost in the sands of time in just a few hours. The remaining crates and bodies were loaded onto floating platforms and prepped for the day’s trek back to the caves.

    “Sir” one of the Fremen approached D’Angen.

    “How did you fire their blaster sir?” the man asked incredulously.

    All Fremen knew that Harkonnen blasters had genetic triggers, only Harkonnens could fire their weapons. D’Angen wasn’t ready to explain to his men yet that Harkonnen blood ran in his veins. Wasn’t ready to let them know his blood ran with the same poison coursing through their most hated opponents. He would have his revenge on the Harkonnens for what they did to his people and his mother, but his people wouldn’t trust him if they knew he wasn’t a pureblood.

    “It was a planted gun, I paid a smuggler to swap it out a week ago” D’Angen told his men.

    “I told you, this attack had been planned down to the last detail”. Even as D’Angen finished his sentence he could tell his men were not completely satisfied with his response but were smart enough not to question further.

    At least this buys more time, he thought to himself.

  10. Lironah says:

    Jamon sifted through the detritus covering the floor of the abandoned enclave with exaggerated lethargy. He idly considered what it had been used for during the height of the so-called Technological Meritocracy, before the People’s Rebellion had wrested power from them and returned to a simpler life of agriculture and animal husbandry. Once, the room might have served as the home of a barrister’s family, the fine wooden furniture accented with sapphire and carbuncles. Outside, a black buzzard flapped among the sumpter pickets, startling the alpacas tethered there, and Jamon imagined the bird was a monstrous ornithopter, arriving to carry the room’s ancient inhabitants to some splendorous palace filled with mechanical wonders. He laughed to himself, but was drawn from his fantasy by the syncopated rhythm of a horse trotting down the road – his father, returning with a pair of pheasants for breakfast. Jamon brushed the dust from his hands and left without a backward glance. There was real work to be done.

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Lironah: Fantastic first submission. You are a word slinger I see. Well done.
      Everyone welcome Lironah to the fun (every Monday and Thursday).
      What did you think of the challenge?

    • Chris Fries says:

      Excellent entry, Lironah!  I really loved the setting you developed here.  Fabulous job of establishing character, setting, and back-story in such a small paragraph, especially considering you also wove in those tricky prompt-words so seamlessly.
      Welcome to the CCC!
      And in case you don’t see it in my reply to your comment after my post:  I took the liberty of checking out your blog — very cool!  I used to play some D&D back in the day, and I really like what you’ve done on your site.

    • Welcome to the CCC, Lironah. One must be careful to not make assumptions; however, I can’t resist asking if there is a link between you, your Anime gravatar and this delightful fantasy world?
      Heh! I was right! I love your website. It’s a pleasure meeting you.

      • Lironah says:

        Ahh, no, my gravatar was made by recoloring someone else’s sketch of an Evangelion character, with the end result that it doesn’t look like anyone but myself (perhaps a younger version). It was the facial expression that fascinated me; the careless compassion captured by the eyes and the set of the mouth.
        I’ve never actually written in the setting I created for this exercise, though it does show some promise and I may explore it further. My current project is a science fiction war trilogy set on a small colony world.

  11. Lethargy overwhelmed the Sumpter Husbandry of the Carbuncle encrusted Barrister who, at this moment, was distracted by the Syncopated sounds of the Detritus Ornithopter as it hovered over the Enclave of Meritocracy that existed only as a shadow of the temple lions. 

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Louis: Hell ya! Glad you decided to try this. Great short form here. Welcome to the fun.
      Everyone welcome Louis to the addiction.
      Let us know what you thought of the challenge.

      • Cathy Miller says:

        Holy-moly-look what happens when I come late to the party – all these newbies – sorry for running late on this.

        @Dilly @Evelyn @Rick @Lironah @Louis – Welcome to CCC!
        Overcome the lethargy of the inane nattering of the critic carbuncle and welcome to the CCC meritocracy where the husbandry of creativity grows between green walls and takes an ornithopter flight to destiny.

        Within our enclave, words are the eloquent barrister of dreams as they build in a syncopated release from the detritus mound carried away by the sumpter of mediocrity.


    • Chris Fries says:

      Very, very good job of getting all those words into a single sentence, Louis!  Excellent.
      And welcome to the CCC!

    • Welcome to the CCC! This is awesome! Every single word rocks!
      Can’t touch this! 🙂

  12. Jen says:

    The enclave would have no part in her lethargy, no acceptance for the carbuncled disgust that made her appear as an encumbered ornithopter propped upon a mostly dead sumpter, shifting its useless, breathless self along in a half hearted thrust. There was no room for the grotesque here; the place being already littered with the sound of syncopated husbandry and its results. The constant groan of labor or production, its detritus, the stuff of birth and death and other worlds crowding around them. A meritocracy that abided this was no kind of meritocracy at all. They would be happy to dismiss her; delivering an eviction by a barrister who could not conceal his horror.

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Jen: You crushed this. Tell me more about this. I think I know the underlying meaning, but I’m not sure.

      • Jen says:

        To be frank, I think I had a combination of ideas in my head and was just sort of throwing it up. But … I was imagining a place where only perfection was sought and/or created, with means other than just your normal, run of the mill procreation. And how being born imperfect into that would simply not do. My favorite word was ornithopter, but I did not want to use it in its usual way. So. Anyway. Thanks.

    • Chris Fries says:

      Wow — extraordinary! What a truly captivating and unique spin on the words — I love the setting you’ve created here.  It’s just filled with story questions about your character, why the ‘syncopated husbandry’ (love that phrase!) is taking place around her, and what kind of world we find ourselves in.
      Amazing job, Jen!

    • Jen, what a striking contrast to Anne’s perspective.
      The people want to know: what is this horror of which you speak? (Water-wheel, perhaps?)

  13. Ingrid says:

    Wow this was tricky! Here is the FB collaborative writing posse… back for another round:
    Harvey stretched, feeling that hot summer day lethargy that makes you just want to nap under a shady tree. He couldn’t believe summer vacation was almost over.

    Still Harvey couldn’t understand why Emily had such a nasty carbuncle. He can’t just imagine someone sleeping 5 hrs under the sun without feeling skin burning up!

    The hideous growth had served him well, though: Emily had been passed over for a promotion in favor of himself, proving once and for all that Zombo, Inc was not a meritocacy.

    For some reason, Hamlet popped into his mind, “Neither a borrower nor a lender be, For loan oft loses both itself and friend, And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.”

    Despite moving up the ladder at work, he still needed more money to buy the salmon-hued carbon fiber aerofoils for his side project, a flamingo-inspired ornithopter.

    Indeed, the enclave of Harvey’s brain and imagination was broad and rambling. If only he could sustain a train of thought he might find his true mission and eventual success!

    He had to have the drive and tenacity of a barrister, seeking to win at any cost, even if it meant telling the truth.

    Still he avoided it when he could, as truth had always complicated his direct line of progress, leading him in syncopated steps along a twisted and unpredictable path.

    It wasn’t working. Not even this four star vacation at the Stillme Yoga Retreat Centre could help clear the detritus from his mind.

    With a heavy sigh, Harvey resigned himself to the fact that next week he would be again a sumpter of the corporate world.

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Ingrid: You all are amazing. What do your other friends that don’t contribute think of this? I’m getting a super kick out of reading this. Each of the 10 people you have doing this are skilled. Each one knows to incorporate what was said prior and give the next person something to work with. Great job.

      • Ingrid says:

        @Shane: There are some repeat writers 🙂 This time there were 6 of us. 🙂 But thank you (on behalf of all of us). I think I can say we’ve all *loved* participating in your fabulous project. And I expect, we’ll continue to. I’m always thrilled by how quickly the answers start coming after I post your list. 🙂

    • Chris Fries says:

      Wonderful job!  The group created a great piece out of these very difficult words!

    • Ingrid, et. al., amazing collaboration! Coherence from half a dozen people is simply a joy to behold, especially with the officiating of the Super Bowl looming… 🙂

  14. sh13151223 says:

    Lethargy stricken meritocracy
    sumpter of detritus dreams
    they are doing merit husbandry
    the enclave is distant and high
    his syncopated music and their’s rocking
    they are the barristers of space ships
    his ornithopter withered away
    a circle carbuncle d with power
    it’s not pain but medicinal diplomacy
    that will save his dreams.

  15. meek willed says:

    In his house hidden in the enclave he was so lethargy from his husbandry work as a  his mental barriers were detritus form the long day.
    Suddenly he started muttering to himself in a syncopated manner pulling out notepads’ and writing plan for getting rid of carbuncle and way’s of making a barrister life easier and drawing diagrams for an ornithopter that would never be over encumber even when pack like a sumpter mule and unlike someone with a meritocracy he worked on whatever came to mine that night

  16. Shane Arthur says:

    “Hey Brogan! Good to meet ya.”

    “Good to meet you too Bobby. Let’s begin our job interview. Tell me the first thing that pops into your mind when you hear the following words. Lethargy.”



    “A Samich.”

    “A Samich?”

    “Yeah, a samich you eat.”

    “Oh, yeah. Okay then. Meritocracy.”





    “A samich.”






    “A samich.”



    “Sumpter. Let me guess. You’re thinking of sex right now.”

    “Dat’s disgusting Mr. Brogan! And it’s sexual harassment! I’m gonna sue!”

    “Uhh. Umm. No need for that Bobby. I think you’ll fit right in at our new ad agency. Yeah. We’re targeting country folks in a new campaign. You and that Billy guy you mentioned on the phone would be perfect to write all our copy. How much do you want per hour?”

    “Three samiches per hour.”

  17. Lauren says:

    A red-hair, 20-something WOMAN held down by MERITOCRACY
    walks helplessly down a hustling Main St. WOMAN drags her
    feet, is slouched, and hangs her head until stumbling on
    some DETRITUS. While keeping her stride, she glances around
    and catches MAN’s smile from the other end of town.
    Fixated on MAN’S every move, WOMAN’s heart begins to pound
    like a propeller and she takes flight slowly and awkwardly
    like an ORNITHOPTER.
    It being WOMAN’s first time in flight, she is unable to keep
    her balance. Birds dodge her as she goes crashing into the
    Town bell. Bouncing from one building to another she
    is  swallowed by a strung banner, but Her eyes never leave
    MAN. She draws closer, but with every barrier, LETHARGY
    overcomes her. She flops onto an angry BARRISTER just
    exiting the courthouse. Her body scratched, hair imperfect,
    and only one shoe, WOMAN and MAN lock eyes.
    The music begins.
    COWS stand over unattended buckets of milk as all HUSBANDRY
    pauses for what is to come.
    A hospital PATIENT quickly wraps his CARBUNCLE sores and tap
    dances out to join the growing crowd.
    The nearby SUMPTER begins to stomp in rhythm. An ENCLAVE of
    dancers and singers surround MAN and WOMAN.
    The Snapping, tapping, humming, and drumming create a beat
    that grows stronger and faster as MAN and WOMAN walk closer.
    MAN reaches for WOMAN’s hand.
    All is still until MAN’s SYNCOPATED hello meets WOMAN’s.
    EVERYONE dances & sings in unison for about five ticking
    minutes. All eyes are left on MAN and WOMAN as they skip
    into a random building. The door slams and stirs the town
    back into action.

  18. KathleenL says:

    Untitled Shannon, Continued

    “Sooooo?” Patty said with flightiness in her voice that extended to her hands.
    “So … you look like you are ready to fly off on that ornithopter you have been dreaming of just to see me head out of here with ol’ Jake,” Shannon scoffed as she sat down at their window side enclave.
    A handful of cowboys leaning on the bar were razzing Jake as well. In unison the guys looked over at the girls.

    “Them sumpters are looking your way,” Patty said elbowing Shannon in the ribs.
    Sitting, stewing at the table she could not help but notice the adverse proportion of the jean clad bodies to the meritocracy of the beer delivery. There was no barmaid in sight. Shannon’s irritations were beginning to grow. She rose shaking her head at her enthusiastic friend and began walking over to the end of the bar to get a beer and a break from having Jake forced upon her.

    She wormed her way through the warm bodies. As she reached the barmaid’s station at the East end of the wrap around oak she stepped up behind a set of Wranglers topped by blue plaid light cotton shirt and a straw cowboy hat. As lethargy has not ever been a part of Randy’s makeup, he stopped half way down the bar, turned on a heal, grabbing a beer glass on his way. He stopped at the sink… tuned on the hot water, filled the glass with near scalding water. He dumped the contents, turned the off the water, and headed for the draft beer pulls. He headed back to Shannon with her Amber Bock and two brown longnecks.
    “Six,” Randy said as he placed the Budweisers on the oak.
    “Thank you,” the Wrangler and plaid fella as Randy counted the ones he had been handed.
    “Sure thing,” Randy said as he lightly nodded and held up the seven ones acknowledging the fella’s tip. Satisfied the young man turned to return to his friends.
    “’Cuse me ma’m,” he said with a smile, tipping his hat as he moved across her path. She smiled allowing her chin to dip ever so slightly.
    “Here yah go Shannon. Sorry you had to wait madam,” he syncopated his speech as if he were a proper English butler.
    She smiled at his apology.

    “No worries Sir Randy,” she said as she placed a five spot in his hand. He quickly returned with her change. “The night goin’ okay for yah?”
    “Oh, yah know… as long as the boys don’t get too rowdy it will all be good.”
    “I couldn’t agree with yah more,” she said taking a sip from her beer. They stood, relaxed for a moment. “I better let you get back to work there. Them boys down there are looking longingly after you.”
    “Yah sure they’re not looking at you dear?”
    “Oh yah! I am sure. They look thirsty, not hungry,” they both laughed as she stepped away.
    It was like threading a needing getting through the throng of young cowboys. She lifted her beer above their heads. The movement caught the eye of a young blonde.
    “Hey sweetie, wher’ yah headin’ off to?” each word was steeped in the South.
    “Jus’ headin’ back over to my seat,” she said nonchalantly.
    “Welllll, you can come sit here wit me, instead,” he said placing his hand on her backside as she began to pass him.
    “Son,” she stopped, looking him square in the eyes, “You better remove your carbuncle covered hand before you need a Barrister to represent you and one of your buddies here to show you pity and their husbandry skills.”
    “OOOOOoooooooooo,” was all she heard from the guys standing within earshot of this overly friendly misguided fool.
    She pushed past him, retuning to seat. But not before hoping the subject of her and Jake has become a detritus point with Patty.

  19. Kelly says:


    From the Latin for live, or burning, coal. The carbuncle has been admired since Biblical times for its glowing, almost mystical red. When Jack heard that fiery red stones might have been found out West, he felt himself drawn into a quest for the gem. In the town of Sumpter, Oregon, he found an enclave of similar-minded men.

    They were looking for gold, and Jack for rarities of a different kind, but they had heard tales of the beautiful garnet he was hunting for, and they understood the way his bones ached for a strike that was always just out of reach. It was a real meritocracy, there beyond the reaches of decent society; who your people were mattered a whole lot less than how hard you worked, as long as Lady Luck smiled on you once in a while, too. Name-dropping, a mannered veneer, and worst of all, the lethargy of knowing you have copious family laurels upon which you may comfortably rest, were all of little use in this syncopated American state. For those things, Jack was grateful.

    He’d been destined for a barrister’s life back in Ottawa, the life his father and grandfather led and back to his great-great-grandfather in London; but he wasn’t cut from the same cloth as his ancestors, and the ancestors who were still alive and keeping a close eye on him were never very impressed with the tattered cloth Jack was cut from. When his ability to swing a pickaxe deserted him, he imagined collecting the riches his gemstones might bring and retiring to a ranch and concentrating on husbandry. Tinkering while the cattle graze. Taking off from some foothill, trying to beat the French at fashioning a working ornithopter, hoping to breathe in the chill air as the eagles overhead loved to do. When his ability to swing ‘round the ranch seven times a day to keep track of his herd deserted him, he imagined heading further on, north where only the hardest of men survived. All of those dreams were insanity to his stiffly tradition-bound kin.

    In the end, he found only one truly majestic stone, and he could never bear to part with that. He kept it under a floorboard in his shack and took it out once in a while, to remind himself of the beauty of living this pure, fresh life. He found nuggets of gold and smallish formations of garnet that paid his meager bills and kept his dreams burning and left him a little money to stash away for his imagined somedays. In all the detritus he sifted through, in that boom decade in Sumpter, Oregon, Jack never struck it rich, and still he never was sore about it. The riches were in the hills and the prairies and the men who lived in and on them—wise, silent, and tattered treasures, beyond all he’d known back East.

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