Armed with the prompt ‘finger’, my sixteenth short story for online writing group Tuesday Tales, I went to a writer’s retreat (run by Helen M Hunt) and below is the result. I’d already written a story when walking round the park a few days before but it’s dark. And I mean really dark. Too dark (about a pervert) to put on this family-friendly blog but I wrote three at the retreat so you have treble trouble this week (including five dice prompts from the retreat: gate, moon, trees, lock and bubble).
Tuesday Tales provides a new prompt each week, the members write a story inspired by it and post it on our blogs / websites. Then we email the link and first two or three sentences to Jean Joachim. She then posts them on the Tuesday Tales blog (on a Tuesday ), gives us the link then we go out and shout about it. So, without further ado, here are my 166-worder ‘Full Moon’, 294-worder ‘Elimination’ and 29-worder ‘Lock-jaw’.
Swinging the gate open, Jody winced as it complained. Looking up at her parents’ bedroom she waited for a light. Above the house, the moon was bright and whole, splintered by next door’s laylandia. She smiled as she thought of the scene from Bruce Almighty where Jim Carrey enlarges the moon and pulls it closer.
With the house still in darkness, she put her key in the lock, slowly, silently, and held the handle as she pushed the door away from its frame, closing it again just as quietly. Climbing the stairs she avoided the step that creaked and was grateful that she’d left her bedroom door open when she went earlier that evening.
In the bubble of her room, she leant against the windowsill staring out into the night. She could hear her father snoring next door and she smiled as she imagined her mother’s efforts getting to sleep.
Jody was making shapes out of the stars when she felt a finger jab her back.
Using the height of the moon as a guide, Tom headed in its direction, the only other company the bare trees of the Australian outback.
Blowing out his last stick of bubble gum he let it pop and cover his nose and for a moment he felt like a child again. A safe child whose mother would smother him in a warm blanket and tell him everything was going to be all right.
His eyes locked onto a light on the horizon, a gated track leading to it. As Tom walked nearer he saw movement behind the light, one corner of a small single-storey house.
He reached the gate and read the sign. ‘Private Property – Trespassers will be eliminated’.
“Eliminated?” Tom said out loud. “That’s ridiculous. It should be prosecuted. Who eliminates people? He looked around him, turning in a slow meticulous circle. Having spent the last three hours trying to find signs of life, someone to take him to the nearest town, someone to return to fix his rental car, he decided he’d risk being ‘eliminated’.
Signs didn’t mean what they said. They were just there to scare. It would work with most people but when faced with no other option, it didn’t scare Tom. So he opened the gate then closed it behind him, reverently as if it would help his case. He started walking the two or three hundred yards to the house, slowly in case of confrontation at any moment. He was about half-way when he heard a click, his right foot hitting something hard. He froze to the spot and looked down, but saw nothing but earth. Heart thumping, he crouched down, careful not to move his feet then screamed as he brushed away the dirt with his fingers.
As he swung the gate until it hit the tree, Johnny chewed his bubble gum and stared at the mooning student, finger in the air, until his jaw locked.
The links to the earlier prompts, and resulting stories, and the forthcoming prompts can be found on this blog’s Tuesday Tales page. Do go and check out the Tuesday Tales blog – it’s a wonderful idea supported by talented writers. This week’s are here.
So, not only can you read these stories but you could also write your own using the prompts given each week. There’s no word count limit. Single-word prompts are something I regularly give my Monday night workshop and it’s amazing how different our stories can be.
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Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are weekly episodes, usually released Monday mornings UK time, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.