Writing Prompts – Creative Copy Challenge #273

This is a writing prompt. Bet you can’t do it! Take the 10 random words below and crush writer’s block by creating a cohesive, creative short story! And remember: after (if) you finish entering your submission into the comment field, 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. Scream
  2. Stack
  3. Ring
  4. Quick
  5. Sour
  6. Funny
  7. Twist
  8. Kick
  9. Overdue
  10. Trade

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.)

45 Comments on “Writing Prompts – Creative Copy Challenge #273”

  1. Shane Arthur says:

    I channeled Cathy’s crime stories for this one. Fun freestyle.

    Go ahead and scream, my little short stack; nobody will hear you ringing.
    Awwwh, how quickly your expression of hope sours in the reflection of a machete blade. And you look so funny trying to twist out of those knots and kick out at me.
    Alas, your fate is overdue, my little pretty; time to trade you in for a new model.


  2. Burning rubber. Always burning rubber. Marty was a stud and a stock car racer. Right now, neither activity was the source of his primal scream. He tried to calm himself down long enough to let his manager twist the overdue notice from his clenched fist.

    Lipscomb fixed his facial muscles carefully. Any sign of a sour expression or a funny look and Marty would be quick to go off like an errant air wrench. As he gingerly opened the envelope, Lipscomb wondered for the hundredth time why he had decided to trade in his coveralls for a job with this lunatic. He glanced at the paper. Oh no!

    Marty squinted dangerously at the sphincter-like ring of Lipscomb’s mouth. Was that a smile trying to sneak out?

    Lipscomb couldn’t help it. He burst out laughing.

    Marty blew his stack. He swung a vicious kick at Lipscomb. He missed.

    Lipscomb jumped back from the madman’s foot, while holding out his hands in humorous supplication. He implored Marty to wait a second.

    Marty paused.

    Lipscomb stuck the overdue notice in Marty’s face.

    Marty squinted again, moving his lips as he read:

    “Fortville Public Library. Marty Hammerstein. Auto Repair For Dummies. Late. Fifteen cents.”

  3. Liss Thomas says:

    My brain turned upside down on this challenge so just go with it!
    Screams seldom stop or soothe some to sleep
    Stacks store stories with silent slips of sorry
    Rings replay and resound until removed
    Quick quotes quiet the quips of quarrels
    Sour sickens so sensitive stomachs
    Funny feels fortunate for frowning fellows
    Twist, turns, trips, tragically trample
    Kicks kindle and keep karate!
    Overdue oven often offs oats
    Trades turn trash to treasures

  4. Here is my poem for today:

    Kick that overdue ring over here
    ignore the sour scream and twist it off
    this quick trade not even funny
    these fat cats on top of the stack
    always end up falling down hard 

  5. Anthony Smits says:

    The steam-whistle’s scream interrupted conversations in every part of the village; heads turned to face the sound of the closed line’s last train leaving. Above the locomotive stack, a mess of steam and sooty smoke twisted and dispersed; a ring of it hung for a moment above the station footbridge, dampening the two teen boys who leaned on the railing as the engine snorted cinders towards them.
    “Last time, eh?” said the driver to his almost redundant mate; ten years on the run together. “Today’s gone quick.”
    Fireman Snow had been full of sour observations about useless unions and profit-hungry management on the journey up. But now, crouched, shovel in hand, his sweating face reflecting orange from the fire he was stoking, he didn’t reply.
    “Funny thing is,” continued the driver, in an almost-shout as the locomotive clanked and jolted over the points, “I don’t think I’ll miss the early starts.” He gave another valve a twist.
    Snow nodded as he stood and stretched, and he pushed back his cap with one greasy black hand. He gave the fire door a kick to check it was secure.
    “My missus says we’re overdue for a holiday,” he said, leaning close to the driver to speak in his ear. “I did offer her a rail excursion, seeing as we got all those free tickets. But you know what? She said she’d trade me in if I talked any more about trains after today.”

  6. Bobbert says:

    I had so much fun doing this in the past, so I’m back for another. I figured these words would work well with something a bit dark and mysterious, so here we go…


    Travis screamed when he saw the old man opening the door, and pulled back his finger from the doorbell button. Michelle scooped him up promptly and quieted the boy, while apologizing to her new neighbor. “Boys will be boys,” she said sheepishly, but I wouldn’t trade him for the world. Travis buried his sour expression behind her neck, and clung tightly to mom.
    The old man just stood there looking at her and she wondered at the vacant look. “I’m sorry to bother you Mr. Lumis. You probably still have a lot of unpacking to do.” He just stood there looking at her. A crazy thought flittered in her head about how far they lived in the woods. That no one would hear her scream. 
    “It’s a funny twist,” she continued, “that we finally have a chance to say an overdue hello only after my son kicks a ball over the fence into your yard.” Michelle adjusted her hold on Travis, who peeked out cautiously at the strange man. She got a quick look at some boxes stacked up behind him. They looked untouched, and a bit like they might never be touched. Maybe this man had just lost his wife. But no ring or tan line on that leathery finger.
    Still uneasy, Michelle asked if they could come inside the fence to look for Travis’ ball. “We won’t be long,” she promised. 
    “Mmm,” the man grunted under his breath. Without any additional acknowledgement, the man turned and they followed him through the house into the back yard.

    She spotted the ball, and headed toward it. But she never got close enough to pick it up. Michelle and Travis would never be heard from again. The only traces they left behind were the screams floating into the woods.

  7. Briony Coote says:

    Barry could just about scream – the bus was overdue again. Typical! Why was the bus always late when time’s stacked against you and you need to get there quick? It must be bloody twisted Murphy’s Law. Normally Barry would have a good laugh at Murphy’s Law, but on this occasion he didn’t find it at all funny. He pulled yet another sour face and vented his frustration with a fierce kick against the pole that held up the bus timetable. There was a dull ring of metal in response, but kicking the bloody thing didn’t make him feel any better. Well, Barry had had enough of bloody stupid bus that kept running late; first chance he got, he was going to search for a replacement for his dead motorbike on Trademe.

  8. Briony Coote says:

    @Mitchell. Thank you for the compliment.
    I am going to enter a short story competition. To help me along I am going to use the prompts from a challenge I haven’t used yet (rules say the story must not already be published or broadcast, so something I have already put up here is out).

  9. Lebbie says:

    Bubba Smith’s reign of terror came to a screeching halt with a high pitched scream and a well placed kick.  Twisting on the ground like a beached whale, he attempted to quickly rise before bending over and spewing the sour contents of his stomach onto the pavement.  The ring of adolescent boys stared down at their fallen tormentor in shocked silence.  What the hell just happened?  The odds had clearly been stacked in Big Bubba’s favor but he had went down without a single punch traded.  One boy bravely began snickering, the funny vision of Bubba sprawled in his own vomit superseding the normal fear-induced loyalty he demanded from his peers.  As snickers spread into laughter and then morphed into cheers, the crowd turned as one to welcome their long overdue kung fu savior.

  10. K says:

    It’s been awhile! My electricity’s been knocked out for nearly week because of the storm down here. It feels nice to be back.

    Exorbitant amounts of light flickered across the wall, casting an eerie lumination upon the mansion’s interior. A smile spread across Jiayi countenance behind the translucent mask concealing the lower portion of her face as she traversed the multitude of corridors in a comfortable pace. Lying in her hand, a small square box rested in the palm of her right hand. Though deemed overdue, Jiayi hoped Yingnu would accept this paltry token of gratitude despite the day quickly approaching one in the dead of night. Jiayi, nearing her destination, took notice of the stairwell located at the end of the hall she passed by. 

    Nausea twisted and knotted in the pit of her stomach. Having been transcended back three hundred years from modern day, the incident occurred right at the foot of the stairs. Recollecting on the accident, Jiayi recalled regaining consciousness after her body recovered from the concussion incurred by tumbling down that same stairwell. Jiayi, upon the first night of soul transference, had no inkling or clue behind the reason why she appeared as one of her former reincarnations until a month passed. Every minute, second, and hour incapable of figuring out the culprit behind the murder of her sister, the Crown Prince’s wife in this era, sparked the possibility of never returning home. 

    Jiayi rid her mind of those thoughts and continued down the hallway. Stopping in front of two sliding doors where the candlelights concentrated most, she placed her left hand on the frame of one door. Before she slid it open, laughter emanated from inside. Jiayi faltered, taking a step back. Perhaps coming into Yingnu’s room tonight proved to be a mistake. Of course, the princess would spend the night at her husband’s quarters as today was his true birth date. Jiayi lost the confidence incited by her friends from earlier and lowered her head as she turned around. 
    “Jieyi?” the door produced a harsh, grating sound against the wooden floorboards. Jiayi straightened upon perceiving her identity. Despite the voice calling her name, she started on the route back down to the other building. “Where are you going? Aren’t you going to come in?” Jiayi froze at Yingnu’s invitation then turned around, careful not to meet his eye.
    “Oh, Crown Prince. That’s nice of you, but-”

    “Who’s at the door, Yingnu?” the princess’s voice projected from further inside. “Jieyi?” The princess’s acerbic tone when stating her name made Jiayi certain of her choice.

    “Sorry for interrupting, Princess and Crown Prince. I’ll just leave now.” Jiayi bowed her head and started down the corridor.

    “Jieyi, come back,” demanded Yingnu. Perplexed by the prince’s words, Jiayi headed back to the door. Her eyes flitted to face him for a moment. To her consternation, he studied her with curiosity. Feeling burdened, she broke from his scrutinization then focused on the ground. “Come in,” he continued with a certain degree of warmth. “You must have some reason to see me tonight. Isn’t that right?”

    “Yingnu,” the princess’s intonation rose, “we-”

    “This is your own sister, Meiyu. Are you not even going to invite your sister in?” countered Yingnu.

    “Fine,” responded the princess, “but we’ll continue this next time.”

    “You may come in, Jieyi,” Yingnu ushered Jiayi.

    “Thank you, Crown Prince. I’ll only be here for a little while. It won’t be long,” stated Jiayi. She entered through the doors and glanced at a table set with a lone plate. Dried persimmons sprinkled with white sugar laid on the plate. Jiayi widened her eyes at the sight then flickered her gaze to the princess and the Crown Prince.

    “Princess, have you eaten these persimmons yet?” Jiayi approached the table. Picking one up, her fingers trailed down its ridges and felt the rough exterior.

    “No, the persimmons this season are too sour for me. The maid brought some over for Yingnu.” the princess held an expression of slight disdain. Jiayi set the dried persimmon back in its position on the plate and rubbed the powder from her fingertips. 

    “Did you eat any, Crown Prince?” asked Jiayi.

    “No, I was planning to eat some. Why?”

    “It’s nothing.” Jiayi settled herself on one end of the table. She slid the box underneath the fabric of her clothes. “It’s just I really like persimmons.”

    “Is that so?” Yingnu shut the doors and sat across from Jieyi next to the princess. She, in turn, brightened and rested her head on her husband’s shoulder. Jiayi, participating as a third wheel, folded her hands in her lap. Her fingers threaded themselves in the silky material. “How about this? If I can’t solve your riddle, you can have all the persimmons you want. If I can, I take all of them. Sounds fair?” Jiayi nodded, formulating a riddle.

    “Ah, Jieyi, do you really want these persimmons?” the princess interjected. “They do belong to the Crown Prince after all.”

    “Leave her be, Meiyu. I’m fine with it. If she likes it, I’m prepared to give it to her.” His gaze drifted toward Jiayi. His lips twisted upward in a smile. Catching his eye, Jiayi glanced down at her hands. The princess parted her lips to further add something to the conversation but then clamped her mouth shut. Jiayi chewed on her lower lip, hoping Yingnu didn’t venture to delve more into her strange behavior. Yingnu said no more. She breathed out a sigh.

    “I have already created a riddle, Crown Prince,” Jiayi forewarned.
    “No need to be so formal. Call me Yingnu.” The princess, although not admonishing Yingnu, wrinkled her nose and sat up. Her eyes bore through Jiayi’s forehead. Becoming conscious of the contempt percolating from the princess, Jiayi, however, disregarded the glares thrown her way. 
    “Yingnu,” she practiced without her voice wavering unlike other countless times. The smile remained plastered on his face.

    “It’s getting better. Oh, before I forget to tell you, I’ve solved your other problem, Jieyi.”  

    “Which one?”

    “The one that went like this “I never was but am always to be. No one saw me, nor ever will. Yet, I am the confidence of all to live and breathe on this Earth.” The answer is tomorrow, isn’t it?” Jiayi nodded at Yingnu’s answer.

    “That’s correct.”

    “That’s a relief. It’s only the tenth problem I’ve gotten right so far. I’ve always enjoyed your riddles.”

    “Thank you, Yingnu. Let’s see if you can make it eleven.” Jiayi couldn’t help but share a small smile. “Ok, it goes like this. The more you have it, the less you see. Even through time, it transcends and can not stop. It can conquer all, but once you have it, it can also destroy you. What is it?”

    “Hmm, the more you have of this, the less you can see?” 

    “Yes. So, what is the answer?”

    “Ha, Jieyi,” Yingnu chuckled, “you’ve chosen the wrong one tonight. This one’s very simple. The more you have it, the less you see. It’s darkness.”

    “That’s right.”

    “Then, these persimmons belong to me. I’ll give-”

    “But,” Jiayi added, “it’s not the answer I’m looking for, therefore it’s wrong. I’m sorry. The persimmons are mine, right?”

    “What?” Bewildered by her explanation, Yingnu knitted his eyebrows and frowned. “There’s another answer to the riddle? I’ve never heard a riddle quite like that. Sure, you can have the persimmons.  Eat as much as you like.”

    “Thank you.” Jiayi reached out a tentative hand toward the plate and grabbed a persimmon covered in granules of what seemed to be sugar. She held it to her lips then looked in Yingnu’s direction.

    “Go ahead.” He acknowledged her fixation on him. “Unless you want me to eat one with you.”

    “No,” Jiayi’s dissension burst from her mouth stronger than she thought, “I’ll eat them all.”

    “Are you sure? Such a greedy girl,” teased Yingnu.

    “Sorry, Crown Prince,” she reverted to her proper speech pattern.

    “Don’t be, and it’s Yingnu. We’re family after all.”

    “Of course,” Jiayi responded. Silence reigned while she claimed the fruit. Her teeth grazed the flesh of the preserved fruit then sunk into it. Its saccharine yet tart flavor pervaded her mouth. The sharp aftertaste singed her tongue and persisted after swallowing. Extending her hand for another, she trembled more than before. As more persimmons passed her lips, the perimeter of Jiayi’s line of sight blurred. Once devoid of dried persimmons, Jiayi placed a hand on her cheek. Just as she feared, her temperature flared up. With her vision obscured in a film of blurriness, her eyes concentrated on one particular spot in the room to prevent from falling into perpetual darkness. She gripped her skirt in one hand, containing screams bound to escape her lips. Fiery agony circulated through her veins.

    “How were they?” the princess spoke up.

    “They were,” Jiayi hesitated, “very sweet but a bit sour like you said.”

    “I hope you liked them. Anyway, why did you come so late if you wanted to tell me a riddle?” asked Yingnu.

    “I just wanted to wish you,” Jiayi drank in another breath, “happy birthday since I couldn’t earlier. There was also something I wanted to give you.”

    “Birthday?” the princess couldn’t repress her incredulity. She snapped her neck to the left to face Yingnu. “I thought your birthday was in the fall.”

    “My true birthday is today. Most people think it’s in the fall. I might celebrate it then, but that date isn’t correct,” Yingnu clarified then turned his attention to Jiayi. “You have a gift for me, Jieyi? Where is it?”

    “Oh,” Jiayi’s fingers wrapped around the box but never exerted any effort to extract it from underneath, “I must’ve forgotten it in my room. I’m sorry.”

    “Is that so? You can give it to me tomorrow then. It’s the thought that counts, so thank you for wanting to give me something on my birthday. How did you come to know it was today?”

    “Sungri told me,” she lied.

    “I see. If there was anyone to tell you, it would be him,” Yingnu sighed. “Well, thanks for acknowledging my actual birth date.”

    “It’s the least I can do for the Crown Prince for permitting me to live in the palace. I wished I told you sooner today.” The impact from ingesting the powdery substance became more potent as the waves of pain intensified while coursing through her body. Unable to endure anymore, tears sprung into her eyes. Jiayi scrambled to rise to her feet, and in the process, her leg knocked into the underside of the table. She kicked the box underneath the table.

    “Are you leaving so soon?” Yingnu seized Jiayi’s hand before she could rush out.

    “I’m sorry.” Releasing a cough, Jiayi covered her mouth with her sleeve. “I don’t feel very well. I’m going to take a walk.” The princess shifted in her position.

    “Let the girl leave if she doesn’t feel well, Yingnu,” the princess uttered.

    “Then, you may leave.” Yingnu relinquished hold on her hand. Jiayi bowed her head at his permission. Afterwards, she slid the doors open and walked into the corridor. She dashed down the length of the hall until arriving at a stairwell to her right. Hurrying down the flights of stairs, she tripped over a step, but it didn’t deter her from continuing her journey downwards. Once at the ground floor, she pushed past the door, leading her out of the building. Her thrumming heartbeat sustained her debilitating body. Jiayi surveyed her surroundings. 

    Her attention settled on a shed nestled by greenery. Bent on her new resolve, Jiayi sprinted down the fairly trodden path into the tiny shed contrasting with the palace in the background. As an advantage, the door remained unlock, granting access. Jiayi groped around the shelves in the shed. Touching a small box, she picked it up and opened the matchbox. With tremulous fingers, Jiayi struck the match against the box’s side. She illuminated the paper latern by her feet. Placing it on the little table pushed toward a corner, Jiayi gathered an ink bottle, a brush, and paper thanks to the sufficient amount of light. Jiayi collapsed onto her knees due to her weakening condition. Regardless of her state, she slapped the piece of paper onto the table and coiled her fingers around the brush dipped in ink. Jiayi expressed her final thoughts and poured her emotions into this letter. 

    Wrapping it up, Jiayi reread her note for coherence. The calligraphy displayed legibility for the most part despite her hand twitching multiple times as she wrote. Jiayi, satisfied with the letter, cleaned up her mess, placing the ink bottle and brush back in their respective stacks. She blew out the candle positioned inside the lantern. Exiting the shed, Jiayi waved the paper in the air to expedite drying the damp page. Once certain, she folded the paper into fourths and intended to head back to Yingnu’s room to slip her final note underneath. 
    However on the way, Jiayi stumbled across the princess and Crown Prince both out on the balcony of the palace’s second floor. The princess presented a white container to Yingnu. He unfastened it and removed the contents stored inside. Yingnu brought forth a handkerchief embroidered with an impressive visual of a blossoming, red carnation and a hummingbird hovering above the flower. Touched by the gift, Yingnu embraced the princess and regarded the scenery from the balcony.
    Jiayi, witnessing the scene, clenched her letter tighter in her hand and repressed tears from descending. Yet again, the princess had stolen something rightfully hers and claimed it as her own. Turning in the opposite direction, she tore away from her spot. Splotches of black stained Jiayi’s perception in intervals. She stopped by an enormous tree situated next to the large pond spanning ten meters across. Discovering a niche in the tree, Jiayi stashed the letter into it. Jiayi expended her energy and as a result, relied on the tree for support. Her breathing became labored and ragged. Jiayi broke into a coughing fit and examined her arm afterwards. Crimson droplets dotted the sleeve’s fabric. She fought with every ounce of her strength against the poison working its detrimental magic.
    “Jieyi!” the Crown Prince’s voice roused her from drifting into unconsciousness. He gently shook Jiayi. “Are you okay?”
    “Crown Prince,” Jiayi addressed, “hi. I didn’t know you were here.” She stood straight up only to lose balance and topple on Yingnu. He steadied her and positioned her head on his shoulder.
    “I thought you would be back inside by now. What are you doing out here if you feel this unwell?” Jiayi glanced up at Yingnu to observe his pair of eyes staring at her with the utmost concern.
    “I’m sorry,” her voice became hoarse. “I needed to do something before I go.”
    “What are you talking about? Come on. I’ll take you home.” Before dragging her toward the palace, Jiayi tugged his arm.
    “This handkerchief,” mentioned Jiayi. “The princess gave it to you, didn’t she?”
    “This?” Yingnu held it up. A smile spread on his countenance. “She did.”
    “Are you sure she made it for you?” questioned Jiayi.
    “Of course. She told me how difficult it was to make and how she pricked her fingers many times in the process of designing this. I treasure this more than anything now.”
    “And you would love anything the princess would give you. You love the princess because she’s your wife,” she murmured. Even if it wasn’t supposed to be hers in the first place, Jiayi thought. Even though she did terrible, malicious things behind your back. Jiayi didn’t want to believe that what she said and thought were right, but facts tended to remain reality. Although Jiayi stood by Yingnu’s side, another woman belonged in her stead though she didn’t suit it. Once her presence or name was in the vicinity, he appeared to be so happy which was good; Yingnu desired to stay faithful to the princess forever and trusted her completely. Tears streamed down Jiayi’s face upon remembering that this may be her last image of Yingnu. This emotion called love couldn’t discern and separate right from wrong; it was blind. “You’re so blind.”
    “Is there something you said?” Taking notice of Jiayi’s silent crying, Yingnu brushed the tears from her face. “Why are you crying?”
    “It’s nothing,” Jiayi evaded, “Don’t worry about it.”
    “You said something along the lines of me being blind, right?”
    “No, I’m so blind,” she replied. “You and me both.” Jiayi mumbled the second statement underneath her breath.
    “Please don’t cry especially since you seem to do so much. Don’t you?”
    “No, I don’t,” she denied, ignoring the aches in her chest. How long was she going to cry herself out because of the same person?
    “Don’t lie. If you cry this quietly, you must cry so many times, so no one can see. I don’t like seeing you like this. I want to make you as happy as much as you cry. Tell me what’s wrong.”
    “You wouldn’t believe me if I told you. It’s fine. I’ll head home.” Regaining her composure, Jiayi started way from Yingnu.
    “Wait,” Yingnu grabbed her arm before she advanced any further. He turned her around. “One sentence. Tell me just one thing.” Meeting his gaze, Jiayi’s tears continued flowing without sign of cessation. Gusts whipped petals that surrounded the both of them. This spot held precious memories she cherished no matter how humorous or dire the situations. Everything began here, and every beginning needed a closing. 
    I hate that you don’t understand me, Jiayi thought. I hate that you’re the only one who doesn’t see me who’s always in front of you.
    “Love is blind,” she disclosed one thing. Jiayi yanked her arm in hopes of Yingnu freeing her, but instead, he pulled her closer to him in a hug. “What-”
    “Instead of you apologizing, it’s my turn. I’m sorry. I think I know now.”
    “No, you don’t.” she laid her head on his chest.
    “I’m sorry it took me this long to realize it, but there’s nothing that can be changed.”
    “Then, let go of me. The princess is waiting for you. I’m not needed here.”
    “If you want to treat me well to combat my tears, please let me go. I feel sick,” Jiayi requested. Yingnu, in contrast to his obstinate nature, acquiesced and released her from his grasp.
    “Oh, Yingnu, Jieyi,” the princess made an entrance. “There you two are. Did something happen?”
    “Nothing happened,” responded Yingnu. “I’ll go in first.”
    “Yes, Crown Prince.” Jiayi bowed her head. He waved at her and tossed a final glance at her from his shoulder as he became a speck in the distance. 
    “Jieyi,” the princess’s voice hardened, “let me take you home as Yingnu would want me to do.”
    “Yes, Princess.” Jiayi followed suit as the princess lead. After traversing a short distance, she almost crumpled to the ground in a heap. Time chased and nearly caught up to her. Out of the corner of her fading vision, shrubs and bushels bearing fruit bent over in spite of the stagnant air. The shift of movement became more apparant as the princess approached them. “Meiyu! Stand back!” 
    Jiayi shoved the princess aside and staggered in front of her. Figures cloaked in silhouettes materialized. One of them plunged a gleaming metallic object into Jiayi’s shoulder. Once embedded in her arm, he twisted it. She bit the inner part of her cheek and wrenched the dagger from her shoulder. Blood splattered on the ground, a stream flowing from the laceration on her shoulder. The unknown individual, dazed by her lack of reaction, laid sprawled on the ground as a result of impact when Jiayi kicked him in the stomach. She stabbed him then moved on with the other figure. The princess screamed at the events unraveling before her. 
    Jiayi wrested the knife aimed for her from the bulky man’s grasp. He slightly overpowered her and instead, drove it into her stomach. She doubled over in pain but retaliated seizing his arm. With quick, deliberate movements, Jiayi forced him to slit his throat. The man groaned then crumpled to the ground beside his cohort. Jiayi’s chest heaved up and down rapidly in an effort to sustain life. Glancing back at the princess, she quivered, remaining stationary.
    “Princess, run! Run to the shed!” Jiayi shouted, staunching the blood flow from the wound on her stomach. “Stay in there until you’re sure the sun is up! Then, return to the palace!”
    “W-what about you? You need he-elp,” the princess stammered. For once, Jiayi truly experienced the compassion residing in the princess.
    “No one can save me now, but thank you. Thank you for caring, sister. Now, go!”
    “I’m so sorry…for everything,” a tear descended to the ground from the princess’s face. Heeding Jiayi, she dashed toward the shed. Jiayi, now on her own, stepped around the two bodies. Because of her imbalance, she stumbled over a rock by the edge of the pond and toppled over. Falling in the sub-temperature water, Jiayi felt the air constricted from her lungs. Life withered right before her, yet fate called for this closure. She shut her eyes, resigning herself to the end. 
    It was quite funny how historians told oral tales and past happenings as if they witnessed them when in fact they themselves had no intimation of how events were instigated. Instead of investigating and uncovering the mystery behind the princess’s, Meiyu’s, death, Jiayi absorbed too much from this era and fell in love with its novelties. Her predecessor, Jieyi, had traded her life in order for her elder sister and the Crown Prince to thrive.
    As anticipated, the aura of death enveloped Jiayi. All was silent while Death captured her with his encroaching tenebrosity.

    Jiayi’s eyelids fluttered open. Observing every minute detail in her environment, the roar of engines and paved roads denoted present day technology. Squeezing air from her lungs, Jiayi unleashed a violent cough.
    “You’re awake? It’s about time,” the brusque voice grumbled. Jiayi scrutinized the stranger’s head hovering above her, trying to make sense of his features in the glaring sunlight. Right at that moment, she realized he carried her in his arms.
    “Who are you? Have we met before?” Seeing his whole face, Jiayi gaped at striking similarities. “Yingnu?”
    “Who’s that?” he frowned. “I’m one of your coworkers, Taeying. I thought you might remember me, but it looks like you lost your memory. I see you at the studio all the time.”
    “Oh.” Disheartened at the news, Jiayi closed her eyes for a moment then opened them. On closer inspection, Taeying’s fiery, red hair and wiry build conflicted with Yingnu’s lighter hair and leaner frame. “You look like someone I used to know.”
    “You do, too,” admitted Taeying. “Well, before we became coworkers. I feel like I’ve met you somewhere long ago.”
    “What happened? Is there something on my face?” inquired Jiayi.
    “There was a fire in the storage room. You were in it, and I was the only person who knew so I kind of got you out of there safely. Your cheek got burned while you were in there. I put a cloth to cover your face, so you wouldn’t breathe in anymore smoke.”
    “A cloth? It feels really soft.” Jiayi plucked the handkerchief from her face. With air irritating her injured cheek, the melted skin stung. She sucked in a breath and inspected the cloth. Her lips parted when her eyes fell on the frayed images of a hummingbird and carnation. On the lower right corner of the dirtied cloth, the letters J and E had been stitched there. “This-”
    “I got it from my grandmother. She said it’s been passed down from a wealthy ancestor, and she wanted me to have it. I’ve had it ever since I was ten. Don’t laugh.”
    “Why would I? It must mean a lot to you. It means a lot to me, too.”
    “In what way?” asked Taeying. “You’ve probably never seen this in your life until today.”
    “You wouldn’t believe me even if I told you,” Jiayi ended the topic.
    “Huh, I’ve heard that before,” Taeying mused.
    “Oh, really? Listen, have we ever talked before this encounter?” 
    “You must’ve hit your head pretty hard on something. We did sometimes, but it was strictly about work. This is the first time I’ve talked to you about things unrelated to music outside of work.”
    “Then, you don’t know that I like to tell riddles,” Jiayi revealed. “I’ll tell you one.” Taeying shot her a grin.
    “If there’s anything I know the best in the world besides a paper, pen, a beat, and mic, it’s riddles. Hit me with your best shot.”
    “Ok, then. You asked for it. After being ripped from my mother’s womb and being beaten and burned, I become a bloodthirsty killer who knows no bounds unless handled with carelessness.”
    “Iron extracted from Earth,” he answered with ease. “Next.”
    “If you break me, I don’t stop working. If you touch me, I may be snared. If you lose me, nothing matters. I will move on.”
    “The heart. Is this the best you got?” tested Taeying.
    “Kid, you have no idea who you’re messing with,” snapped Jiayi at the red head’s vain confidence.
    “How old are you to be saying that to me? I’m twenty-one.”
    “Well, so am I. Sorry if I offended you.”
    “It’s fine. We’re the same age, so it doesn’t matter. Continue.”
    “Umm, how about one by one we fall from heaven down into the depths of the past. When our world is ever upturned, we last some time.”
    “Hmm, that’s a tough one,” said Taeying. With the accomplishment of stumping him, Jiayi smiled.
    “Hah! I told you-”
    “The sand in an hourglass.”
    “Man, I thought I had you that time!” she groaned. “You’re pretty good.”
    “You’re not bad yourself,” he complimented. “Not like the what walks with four legs, two, then three crap I keep hearing from people.”
    “Thanks, I guess. Ah!” The burn on Jiayi’s face throbbed in pain. “Do you mind taking me to the hospital?”
    “Hospital? I can treat your wound now if you want. I grabbed a first aid kit as soon as I saw it in the burning building.”
    “Then, why haven’t you?” Jiayi questioned.
    “I got distracted by your riddles. I couldn’t do it while you were unconscious. You’d think I was a creep for laying hands on you when you woke up right in the middle,” Taeying provided an explanation. He approached one of the sparse amount of trees in the area. “Can I set you down here?”
    “Yeah. Do what you have to.” Taeying placed her down with utmost care, swinging her legs in front of her while allowing her to lean against the tree’s trunk. Kneeling, he untwisted the cap off a water bottle and splashed some icy cold water on the damaged skin. Jiayi winced at the stings stabbing the wound.
    “Since I don’t have enough water, this will have to do.” Taeying unlatched the first aid kit and tore a piece of gauze from the roll. To bandage her cheek, he moved closer until his face loomed a few inches from her head. She stared down at the blades of grass as Taeying fixed the gauze on. “You’ve got nice eyes. They’re pretty,” commented Taeying.
    “Um, thanks. I haven’t heard that in a while. I guess I look good like this.” After he wrapped up his ministrations on her face, she covered the lower half with the handkerchief like a mask, ensconsing her burn otherwise.
    “Yeah,” Taeying, mesmerized by her eyes, shook his head then cleared his throat. “If I hadn’t met you from work, I would think I knew you from somewhere.”
    “Same here. Oh, this is yours.” She handed it back to him. Jiayi rose to her feet with difficulty.
    “Are you sure you can walk?”
    “It was just my face, right? I can definitely walk.” Proving her point, she strode toward the sidewalk. Turning her head, she gestured to Taeyi. “Come on. Aren’t you going home?” Taeying snapped out of his trance and walked alongside her. Without any aim of heading home or to work, they conversed with each other for some time, and soon, hues of oranges, yellows, and pinks painted the skies.
    “Do you have another riddle?” Taeying challenged.
    “Of course I do. Let’s see you get this one,” countered Jiayi. “The more you have it, the less you see. Even through time, it transcends and can not stop. It can conquer all, but once you have it, it can also destroy you.” Silence ensued, contributing to the tense atmosphere until he spoke up again. 
    “I want to say it’s darkness because it’s one answer, but I think the real answer is love,” Taeying whipped his head around to face Jiayi. “Is this right?”
    “Correct,” Jiayi stated, maintaining her calm composure although her thoughts begged to differ. “How did you know? People always say it’s darkness or some kind of optical disorder.”
    “Hmm,” Taeying thought for a bit, “I guess it’s because of the last line. An eye disorder or catalyst in the eye can’t conquer all only the person afflicted by it. If darkness is all around you, of course, it’ll destroy you. You can’t see. Evil aligns more with the riddle but can stop with time. Love can last forever and conquer all or you, depending on how you see it. The more you love someone or something, the less you can separate from right and wrong. You only see them.”
    “Forget about what I said about you being pretty good. You’re amazing with words. You must be a good lyricist.”
    “Eh, so-so. I wouldn’t say I’m the greatest lyricist, but I’m decent. I’ve still got a lot to learn. You’re not bad with words yourself.”
    “That means a lot to me. Thanks. Well, it’s getting late. I’ll see you tomorrow.” Before rounding the corner, Taeying urged her to stay.
    “Hey, there’s something I wanted to show you.” Jiayi stopped and turned around.
    “What is it?”
    “It’s not far,” Taeying reached out and took her hand in his. “I’ll take you there.” Crossing two streets and down one road, the number of trees increased, and the shimmering waves of a pond stunned Jiayi. Memories clouded her mind as she traversed the familiar path with Taeying. “We’re here.” Jiayi took a glimpse at easily the largest tree in the vicinity. Pink petals whirled and danced in the sporadic breezes.
    “It’s beautiful,” Jiayi remarked.
    “I’ve always liked being here as a kid and running around the park here,” Taeying stared up at the tree, blossoming with pink flowers that bent to the wind’s will. “I hid stuff in this tree ever since childhood. Speaking about that, I found something I think you should have.” He rummaged in the niche and bestowed Jiayi a yellowed note and a ring. “Read it,” Taeying nudged. Jiayi opened the crinkled page with extreme gingerness and perused its contents. The three phrases, though relatively short, struck a nerve.
    “I await you. Even if it takes three hundred years, I will be able to find you. Please wait for me.”

    “Taeying,” her voice quietened to a whisper.
    “Take a look at the band of the ring.” Jiayi squinted to take notice of the word engraved in th ring’s circular band.
    “Love.” Taeying slid the ring on Jiayi’s ring finger. He met her eyes filled to the brim with tears. “You found me.” He intertwined his fingers with hers.
    “I think I’m blind because of the person in front of me because-”
    “The more you have and feel it, the less you see,” she finished. “I think I need to learn more about you.”
    “I think so, too,” Taeying agreed.
    “Ok, so, a man is born-”
    “No, personally,” Taeying stopped Jiayi before she continued.
    “Of course I knew that. I just wanted to test you again.” They advanced on the sidewalk and began heading home. “Where are we going? Your house or mine?”
    “I want to see yours first. Can I?” asked Taeying. “After all, it’s been three hundred years.”
    “Hey, that was them, and now, we’re our own person,” Jiayi pointed out. “I’ll judge myself if you’re decent enough.”
    “What’s that supposed to mean?”
    “We’ll just take it slow,” giggled Jiayi.
    “Sounds like a plan. Hi, I’m Taeying. You are?” Taeying introduced himself.
    “Hi,” she greeted. “I’m Jiayi, and I don’t believe we’ve met properly.”

  11. Shane Arthur says:

    @K: Great interactions here. Write on.

  12. Rebecca says:

    Untitled YA Book
    Maddisen Aster was thrilled her aunt, former Virginia Senator Mikela Aster, invited her to spend the summer in Alexandria, Virginia. Maddisen had a wide variety of interest, but her favorites were art, languages politics, history, journalism, and metaphysical studies including signs and symbols. She was lucky that her parents encouraged her enthusiasm while Isabel, her best friend since first grade, had strict parents who expected her to become a lawyer and continue the family legacy. Isabel loved acting and wanted to attend The Julliard School but that was out of the question.
    “Maddisen dear, would you mind having a late lunch today? I have some errands to run,” said Mikela. Her question snapped Maddisen back to reality.
    “Sure, no problem. I’d like to do some research for my summer project on George Washington and his use of Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis to create America,” said Maddisen.
    “Oh my dear Maddisen you have an active imagination. Very well then; I’m off,” said Mikela.
    An active imagination? That’s funny. There are mystical symbols all over the USA. People are just too blind or scared to see and acknowledge them.
    Mikela had a stack of books and DVDs on a table in the living room. She didn’t get around to putting them away in her personal book and film libraries. Some of the books had a sour smell to them because they weren’t cared for as Mikela would have cared for them. Who wouldn’t take care of a first edition of Oliver Twist? They need a good kick in the pants and a quick lesson on the importance of caring for books. Maddisen shook her head. She smiled when she spotted the Scream DVD sitting on the table. At least Aunt Mikela has an open mind.
    Maddisen walked into her aunt’s book library and moved towards her huge oak desk. Maddisen started poking around and noticed a pair of white gloves and a stack of old papers on her desk. Aunt Mikela must be doing research for a new book. How interesting. Maddisen looked around to make sure no one was coming. Relax. Mikela won’t be back for hours. She put on the white gloves and picked up the first paper and turned it over. She couldn’t believe what she was reading. The Epic of Gilgamesh. This can’t be. How would Aunt Mikela get this? I mean. This is ancient Sumerian text, translated, of course. 
    Brrring. Brrring.
    Maddisen jumped as the phone in the library rang. She quickly returned the paper and took off the white gloves. Why would Aunt Mikela leave something valuable like this out in the open? One thing’s for sure. I was long overdue for a visit and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Rebecca: That was such a cool read. I love history and fiction mixed. One of my all time fav movies is National Treasure.

  13. Rebecca says:

    @ Shane… Thanks! I have a lot of research to do for this YA idea. I haven’t started an outline, but I have a ‘general’ idea about the characters and the direction for the book. I want to make sure it’s easily converted to a screenplay. I’d think it will make an adventurous and fun movie. 🙂

    BTW: I liked the National Treasure movies too. 

  14. Jennifer says:

    The basement was treacherous cavern filled with stalagmites of trade magazines and overdue library books that Mrs. Helms horded. Joseph screamed, kicked, and twisted against the stacks. He tugged and the large rings that bound him to the cold, damp wall of the basement. Feeding Mrs. Helms’s black cat, Salem, a saucer of rat poison wasn’t funny anymore.
    “How had he not been quick enough to escape the old woman who needed cane?”
    As Joseph mused his neighbor’s sudden fleetness he failed to notice the slightly sour odor creeping into the basement.

  15. […] Creative Copy Challenge #273 […]

  16. The newspapers on the front step had grown into a large stack. Unread for so long, they appear lonely and forlorn. Crumpled from being rained upon and drying out repeatedly, the newspapers had become brittle to the touch and yellowed in colour. I wonder just how long it had been since someone had come to check on Clara. Surely the visit from the public health nurse is long overdue.

    I try the handle to the front door but it is locked. Spiders had been busy constructing webs around the edges of the door, their prey now dangle and twist in the sticky traps, waiting to be consumed. I wonder how I would feel if I knew I were caught in a trap, biding time until another creature comes to inject me with paralyzing venom, turning my insides to liquid so they can ingest me. As I look closer, I can practically hear the little flies screaming inside my own head. The paint is peeling away from the wood of the door, the frame showing obvious signs of rot and weather damage. I look for a doorbell to ring but where once there was a button to push, there is now only a hole, roughly patched over with duct tape. Dirt and what look like some type of animal fur hang loosely from the sticky peeling edges.

    Normally I would just turn and leave, calling to see if someone else can check on the elderly lady, perhaps someone with a key, but I have an instant funny feeling in my gut that I need to do something now. Delivering a quick kick to the door, I hear the bolt crack the frame. The door swings open with a painful screech.

    I gag as a sour stench pours out from the darkness of the house. A cat steps past me from within, his thin body rubbing against my legs. One ear is missing and an open sore weeps from an abscess above his left eye. Fur is missing in great patches along his back. I hear other cats yowling inside. Fear grips my stomach, tying knots that threaten to release my bowels right here on the porch.

    What in God’s name will I find if I step over this threshold? What I would trade to start this day over, to have sent Nick in my place to check on our great-aunt. She is such a crotchety old lady, always berating anyone who tries to do her any type of kindness. It is not much wonder that no one comes to visit. As far as I know, aside from the public health nurse, the only company she ever has are her cats. We knew she was eccentric, after all, she was the typecast village cat lady. Last I knew, the count was at 23 cats and I only knew this because the health department and the animal protection services had recently sent us a notice that they would be reviewing her case. Mother used to try to check on her weekly but since she passed, no one carried on that duty. I suddenly feel a tinge of guilt.

    Covering my nose with my sleeve, I push past the cats milling about the door. They all appear to be in various states of disrepair. Missing ears, eyes, tails, even legs. The unmistakable ammonia-like odour of cat urine only barely masks the smell of something like rotting meat. Stepping into the hallway, I flick the switch on the left wall, hoping to shed some light on the situation. Though I repeatedly flick the switch up and down, nothing happens. Thankfully, or perhaps unfortunately, my eyes begin to adjust to the dimness. Cat feces is present in every corner. Tumbleweeds of fur and dirt roll towards the open door. Stacks upon stacks of magazines, books, and boxes create a labyrinth in each room. Peering into the sitting room, I am greeted by the blank stares of hundreds of dolls, in every imaginable shape and size. The yellow and orange of dozens of cat’s shimmering eyes amongst them creates a macabre setting. Surely there are many, many more than 23 cats in this house.

    “Clara?” I intended to shout her name through the house, but what came out was a barely audible squeak. “Hello? Are you in here?”

    Stepping into the kitchen, my shoe catches in a sticky liquid on the ratty linoleum. The rotting smell is stronger in here but it doesn’t appear to be the main source. The fridge door is ajar but the light inside is unlit. It appears as if the power has been turned off for some time. Dishes and garbage line the counters, a variety of substances pouring down the cabinets. A chill goes up my spine and the hair on my arms stands on end. Looking around the room, I see that there is definitely more than the estimated 23 cats. They cover every surface, all of them glaring at me, eyes unblinking. An extremely large Siamese cat with mesmerizing blue eyes stares menacingly at me from the top of the fridge. A glimmer of red reflects off a small object beneath him. Stepping closer to the fridge, I see that he has something pink in his mouth and it is Clara’s ruby ring that is trapped under the beast’s great paw. Horrified, I realize that the pink object in his mouth is a finger.

    Trying desperately not to scream, I stumble backwards towards the front door, feeling my weight step down on an animal. A large wail rips through the air along with a flurry of claws tearing and shredding my pantleg. Incredible pain shoots upward, exploding in fireworks, as the animal rips through my Achilles tendon, dropping me to the floor.

    My vision swims into darkness, as I see them converge upon me.

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