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Your Arch Enemy

Categories: Creative Writing Prompts Tags: creative writing exercises, creative writing prompts, writing prompt.

Everyone has an arch enemy, but until now, you never knew who your enemy was. That all changed one grueling night when, while on vacation, your evening was ruined by your enemy. What’s more peculiar is that your enemy is a famous celebrity! Write about your evening, who your famous arch enemy is and what you did to redeem the night.

Post your response (500 words or fewer) in the comments below.

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409 Responses to Your Arch Enemy

  1. jhowe says:

    Where’s the new prompt. Getting bored.

    Rodney sipped coffee from a clay mug and watched the sun as it arced above the line of trees that skirted the manicured lawn of the property. He contemplated his higher educational options and regretted his choice of skipping the fall semester. His father was not going to be pleased by this at all.

    He opened the French doors, walked into the immaculate kitchen and poured another cup from the Jura-Capresso machine, filled a second cup and took both into the bedroom. Maggie stretched and smiled, the lines around her eyes a little more prominent in the morning light.

    She took the cup and said, “You were great last night baby.”

    “I learn from the best.” He forced a smile and sat on the edge of the crumpled bed.

    “I’ll have Fredrick take you into town,” she said. “You’re going to need a few things for St. Croix.”

    “I’ve been thinking about that.”

    “Don’t overthink things baby. I’ve got things under control.”

    “I was thinking I still have time to sign up for classes at MIT.”

    “Please Rodney, don’t do this.” Maggie set her cup on the nightstand and started to massage his shoulders seductively. “I need you in St. Croix. It would be so dull without you.”

    “Then don’t go.”

    “We talked about this baby. The beaches, the bars, the great food, the sex.”

    “Maggie, I’m not ready for this. You’re not even divorced yet.”

    “Did I mention the sex?”

    “Maggie, listen to me. I’m not your sex toy. I have to get back to school.”

    Maggie got up from the bed and walked into the bathroom. “Fuck you Rodney. You can pack up your shit and leave then.”

    Rodney moved behind her and put his arms around her shoulders. “I’m sorry Maggie. I didn’t mean it like that.”

    “Then how did you mean it. It sounded pretty crystal clear to me.”

    “I just need to make my own way. You give me everything and I feel a little trapped.”

    “Fine,” Maggie said. “Go back to your seedy bars and your little slut girlfriends and your pool hustling buddies. See if I care.”

    “Don’t cry Maggie. I’m not what you need. You need someone who can take care of you, someone you can go out in public with. I’m just temporary and you know it.”

    “Like I said Rodney, pack up your shit and leave.”

    Rodney threw his meager belongings into a duffle bag, grabbed his pool cue and walked to the garage. Fredrick was polishing the Rolls. “Hi Fredrick. Maggie said you’d take me into town.”

    “Very well sir.”

    Rodney sat in the back seat and watched the landscape change. The vacation was over. He certainly wished he’d never laid eyes on her, although she did have some hot legs. Fredrick’s cell phone rang. It looked like he would be walking the rest of the way.

    • jhowe says:

      I just noticed a tactical error. They were heading to St. Croix at the peak of hurricane season. Bad jhowe, no biscuit.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        You wish jhowe! Fun story but just a tad unbelievable that Rodney would leave the Rolls. He could have collected spending money until Maggie dumped him and then go back to school or just get on Facebook and advertise as a sex toy.

        We’ve got a new prompt I see. see you there. KC

    • Svapne says:

      “Wake up Maggie, I think I’ve got somethin’ t’ say to you.”

      I wasn’t sure until about half-way through that this was where you were headed. Now the song’s stuck in my head. And will probably be stuck there all night.

      Also, new prompt is up, yay! Correction: it has been up, for a few weeks. I think Brian might post them early (you can see them under his submissions if you click his name) but he only adds them to the creative writing prompt category when appropriate.

  2. snuzcook says:

    (a tad long, but inspired as a late entry for this prompt by the movie, “Trucks”)

    A BOY’S BEST FRIEND…AND ENEMY

    I spent the entire afternoon detailing my classic pickup, Peggy Sue. I was proud of her velvety green paint job, her bright, spotless chrome and pearly whitewalls. The burl-wood gear shift knob shone like a new penny and the dash board was clean enough to eat off of. Spotless new Indian blanket seat covers on her bench seat whispered “snuggle up.” No ’49 Chevy pick-up ever looked so gorgeous.

    Peggy Sue was ready to meet Mandy. I confess, I was a little nervous.

    Mandy skipped out to the curb with a picnic basket, not a glance toward my beautiful Peggy Sue. I held the passenger door open for her. “Oh,” she purred. “You have a cute little truck.” It may have been my imagination, but her tone seemed a little snarky. She barely missed having her hair caught in the door as the wind seemed to catch it out of my hand and slam it shut.

    On the scenic drive up to the Falls, Mandy scooted close, snuggling under my right arm. She was just getting comfortable when the engine coughed. I put both hands back on the wheel. Was something wrong? No, it seemed to be okay. But after that, if I took one hand off the wheel, the engine would cough or miss. I spent the rest of the drive focused on the sounds of the engine. Mandy was pouting by the time we got up to the picnic area.

    We found a nice gentle slope with a view of the valley and the falls above. Mandy laid out a blanket on the grass and I was carrying the basket over when I heard gravel crunching. Peggy Sue had slipped her parking brake and was starting to roll toward the Mandy. I jumped aboard before she could get any momentum and yanked the brake. As soon as I turned my back, though, she rolled again. I finally had to block her front tire with a rock.

    Things were getting very cozy on the blanket a while later, and Mandy suggested we should go back to the truck for a little privacy. The bench seat was warm from the summer sun, and I tuned the radio to some soft music. I was thanking Providence for Peggy Sue’s roomy cab when the entire passenger’s side started to sink. Through the open window I could hear a loud double HSSSS. Mandy slid downhill to bang her head against the door handle. She squawked in alarm, and the glove box flew open, spilling my secret stash of condoms across the front of her blouse.

    It’s funny how a girl can go from willing to insulted when she figures out that you might have been planning to get to home base all along.

    What followed was a good forty-five minutes of me pumping up the two mysteriously flat tires in the growing darkness while Mandy sat silent in the cab.

    Peggy Sue ran like a top all the way back to town, almost as if she was eager to get there. When I finally walked Mandy to her door, she was over her pout and smiling. I had leaned in for a kiss when on the street Peggy Sue’s horn shorted and started blaring. Mandy’s front door almost flattened my nose as she disappeared inside.

    It’s been nearly fifty years since that fateful summer. I have learned many lessons in my life since then. But perhaps the most important lesson I every learned was that a boy’s best friend can be his truck—until she gets jealous.

    • Kerry Charlton says:

      snuzcook,

      I was listening to Buddy Holly and the Crickets in the back of my mind, while reading your story. Peggy Sue, Peggy Sue. What a fun story. Reminds of my first car. It had transmission problems when I put a rebuilt transmission in it. Driving with your arm around your best girl down the Dixie Highway in Miami, the ‘Black Maria’ [Mu- wray-a] would pop out of third gear when you hit 35 mph. Annoying until I asked Carol Diane to hold the gear shift, so we could cuddle.

      Thanks for the memories. Kerry

      • snuzcook says:

        I remember a 65 Falcon we converted from a three on the column to four on the floor. At the most inopportune times, the new linkage would sieze up and require a quick crawl underneath to release it. Easy to do if you know what you’re doing, but no one else could drive her.

        BTW–I know the story is a stretch for this prompt, and not as well crafted as it could be (still struggling with passive voice). But it insisted on being written.

      • frankd1100 says:

        I enjoyed this, Snuzcook.

        Hell of a storage idea… you were busy.

        Funny story.

        Thank you.

    • BezBawni says:

      You’ve painted a very vivid picture, which is not always easy without any line of dialogue. The story feels warm, amusing and nostalgic, the 70s popped up in its full glory in my mind even before you mentioned the story happened nearly fifty years ago. Playful is another word that comes to mind – playful and Doc Hudson (if it were a female character)))

  3. Svapne says:

    The following is a true story:

    So there I was, enjoying what passed for a vacation when you’re a grad student: a 4 day weekend to go to a friend’s wedding, where 2 of 4 days are chewed up by train rides from north-enough-to-spit-on-Canada- New York to Philadelphia, PA.

    I jumped on my king sized bed, marveled at the kitchenette, extolled the virtues of the two separate TVs in the bedroom and living room, and generally just had a merry old time. But then… oh then…

    So I was on the internet, you see, reading these responses to a some writing prompt when a bunch of these sort of local celebrities on the forum -jeez, you’re not even gonna believe this- these guys took all the good ideas! I mean, here I am, with nothing at all to write about, no drop of inspiration on how a celebrity ruined my vacation, and these guys come up with all these amazing ideas. I mean, they just blow my flimsy ideas out of the water. The Easter bunny and the Tooth Fairy!? I was completely outgunned. So much for being able to contribute in a meaningful way.

    Thanks a lot. Ugh.

    • Observer Tim says:

      Meanwhile, at the secret underground lair of the Regular Prompters, the Dark Overlord surveyed everyone present around the shrouded table. “We have managed to consume all the good ideas, leaving Svapne bereft …” He laughed maniacally.

      Wohisme’s quiet voice cut the laughter off. “Oh, Dark Overlord, Chronos has a message for you. It’s Tuesday. The new prompt is due out today. Your victory will be short lived.”

      As the table of seasoned prompters and new writers dissolved into laughter, the Dark Overlord reacted as if struck.

      “Curse you all and your fertile minds! I’ll get you next time, Svapne! Next! Time!”

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Dark Overlord,

        How do we know there’s not a spy in the midst of us, who leaks story lines out. Maybe we need to have James in on this. KC

      • Svapne says:

        Aw, why does the Dark Overlord torment me so!? It’s because I’m short, isn’t it? I’ve always gotten picked on for that. :( (Or is his Dark Majesty opposed to apocalyptic and sociopathic posts? It seems like he’d WANT me to be inspired…)

        But at least Brian will grace us with respite… or will he? Have Dark Agents blocked his path? Does he himself serve the Dark One?

        I need some info, here. Where’s Kerry’s spy when I need him?

        • Svapne says:

          Or is the Dark Overlord Canadian? Because I don’t *actually* spit on Canada. I love Canada, eh!

          • Svapne says:

            Well why are my spies languishing in Atlantis on vacation when they clearly have more important things to be looking into?

            I’ll have to send in my little demons, won’t I?

            (By the by, those two idiot demons -and the posts here they’re involved in- are actually turning into a new project! I’m super excited! There are some inspirations from the “Prompt that Wasn’t There too.)

          • BezBawni says:

            I think your post here is slowly turning into “The Prompt That Wasn’t There: Reloaded”))) And if you can come up with such ideas as above when your ideas are actually stolen by the Dark Lord, hats off and thumbs up to you. You’re creative genius impersonated, so Voldemort can shove whatever he stole up his…well, cloak. Your cornucopia of ideas is neverending, like comments to the neverending-dream prompt.

          • Svapne says:

            Well, BB, I couldn’t add to the ridiculousness without everybody’s help (MCKEVIN and Observer Tim and Kerry and jhowe and agnesjack and DMelde and you in particular brought out the best, most ridiculous stuff ever). And here Tim and Kerry go again, making trouble and giving me ideas… :P

            I almost feel sorry for the Dark Overlord, when he has all of us to contend with.

        • Kerry Charlton says:

          Scroll down to ‘Weekend at Atlantis’. James will help you battle the Dark One. Kerry

      • wohisme says:

        I’m still trying to figure out what happen to that kid who disappeared in the alley. I thought perhaps the note he left may have been a prompt.

        Maybe it was part of the government shutdown and then the prompt itself vanished, as if it had never existed – AGH!!

        • Kerry Charlton says:

          Should we make another prompt up to amuse ourselves while waiting for the non-existent prompt. How about something concerning ‘the devil from spelling hell’? KC

          • Svapne says:

            While that sounds good and fun, we must also not deviate from the trouble at hand… I think the Dark Overlord has somehow forestalled Brian in his posting of the next prompt. He may need a daring rescue, if you’re not to busy on your sexy spaceship.

        • snuzcook says:

          The minions of computer geeks out there may have felt “outed” and hustled Brian away into cyber pergatory with Rob! I think EB, already looking to avenge his missing incisors, may climb aboard Peggy Sue and roam the backroads of the WD webuniverse to rescue him. Who’s coming with?

    • JRSimmang says:

      FROM THE OFFICE OF: The Dark Overlord
      DATE: 10-23-10
      MEMO: Re: All the Ideas

      Dear Minions,

      It has come to my attention that there is a rumor starting on the floor of the forum. While I normally languish in chaos, I cannot let these rumors go unaddressed. All creative ideas have already been consumed, true, and thanks to Wohisme. The toilet paper in the men’s room is not made from the souls of disgruntled writers. It’s Cottonelle.

      Thank you all for your attention. I couldn’t be more proud to work with the most notorious, conniving, and evil minions.

      Sincerely,
      The Dark Overlord

      PS: Don’t forget Crazy Hat Friday. Wear your favorite crazy hat, and the best one wins a $50 gift card to Evil ‘R’ Us!

    • agnesjack says:

      Svapne — you made me laugh out loud. Very funny and fun.

  4. Ed says:

    Hello all, this is the first time I’ve tried this, Here goes..

    I thought it would be fun, being friended by a star like Helen Hunt. I saw her friend request pop up about 4 months ago. It turns out she’s a part of the same wilderness trail maintenance group as me. At first I thought it was a mistake, or some kind of hoax, but I figured “what the hell…” and accepted. I checked out her page a few times, and there were no real updates, so I put it in the back of my mind. There was no way I could have known how closely she was following my page…

    I was at the gym, finishing up a so-so workout with some sauna time. Baking and sweating and purifying mind and and body. I looked out through the the little window, and Helen was standing there, lithe and pretty, staring at me intently. I was starting to wonder why a star like Helen would be hanging out in the High Desert when she pulled open the door and smiled at me. Not an ordinary smile. More of a snarl. That was a little odd, but my attention then focused on the hammer in her hand. She reached out and turned the thermostat to maximum, pulling off the knob as she finished. She leaned in close, and whispered “enjoy your sauna, asshole.” She backed out of the sauna, still pretty, now scary. She pulled a nail out of the back of her gorgeous blond hair, and nailed the door shut, giving me a flirty little wink before she turned and glided away.

    I sat in shock for a few moments, feeling scared and yet strangely flattered. I had a little crush on her when her TV show “Mad About You” was on the air, and really enjoyed her in “Twister.” Now she wants to kill me! Hey, any relationship is better than none when it comes to movie stars, right? A glance at the thermometer brought me back to reality. It was up to 250 degrees and climbing. Things were getting a little fuzzy….

    I woke up in the ER, dehydrated, but no worse for the wear. The nice policeman asked me who nailed the door shut. When I told him, he gave me a “look” and asked me if I was SURE it was Helen Hunt, or “maybe an angry ex-girlfriend who happened to look a little bit like her” Judging from the tone of his voice, I chose the latter.

    I PM’d Helen when I got home, asking WTF? She PM’d me back, ranting on and on about my Facebook posts, about how I had been ignoring her, about how she knew how I “really” felt about her. She said if I wanted my family to be safe, I should meet her in the parking lot of “Lukshon,” a favorite restaurant of hers in Culver City. So now here I am, duct-taped to a bench in her basement. She is still very pretty, and a wonderful conversationalist…..

    • Kerry Charlton says:

      A funny tale Ed. Great response to the prompt. Welcome to the forum. You will find the next prompt usually at the top of the list at the very beginning of each prompt. I’m looking forward to your next submittal. “So here I am, duct-taped to a bench in her basement.” Great ending, be careful hows she pulls it off. Little ladies have a lot of muscle. KC

    • agnesjack says:

      This was very funny, Ed. Welcome.

    • BezBawni says:

      Another welcome from me, Ed. I also enjoyed your post. It has humor and a little bit of suspense to it – just what I love in a story))

  5. QuiverPen says:

    Vacation? What vacation? I flopped down on to the sofa in the hotel room and snatched up the remote for the tiny TV. With a crackle of dissipating static it came on, blaring with sound since it was left at its highest volume by the room’s previous occupant. Some clothead’s idea of a joke, I guess.
    The room itself was lavish, at least in comparison to the last few places I’d stayed. There were no cockroaches desecrating the walls with their black little eggs, and the water got hot in the shower. After my last encounter with the icy torrent of the last hotel’s hell hole of a bathroom, it was the first thing I’d checked. A news anchor was reporting a spot of weather off the coast, but I barely heard it.
    “Why do I do this to myself?”
    The words seemed to echo in the empty room, though somewhat muffled and hollow. The flight here had been a fiasco. Red-eye from Phoenix to New York City during which I’d been wedged between a woman so large that she spilled out onto the aisle and onto the unfortunate fool who sat next to her, and a condescending toe-rag of an eleven year old who spent the whole flight trying to tell me about his supreme intelligence and how he was going to change the world. Good luck, kid.
    I gave up on the news and collapsed onto the bed. With a sigh, I rummaged in my bag and fished out my copy of The Way of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson. I had read it a dozen times, and a dozen times again. The book showed the use it got. The pages were held together only by a thin membrane of thread along the back where the spine had been. It was his fault I was here at all. Curse Brandon Sanderson for making me believe that I could write epic fiction – that I could be an author. Curse them all for making me hope.
    “Well it’s too late now.” My voice sounds resigned even to me. I was already there. The Writer’s Digest Conference would start tomorrow. Tomorrow, I would try and take the first steps to get out of the poor starving author’s world and into the realm of success. My punishment would be over. My trials would cease.
    “Curse you Sanderson!” I muttered, and opened the book to read it again. It sucks when your archenemy is also someone you greatly admire.

    • JR Buchanan says:

      Bravo! Quiverpen Bravo!

      Like the cross over into reality. I was told this previously from when I placed a post, it was the use of paragraph spacing to allow for clarity, wanted to pass along the same advice as well, but love the story, especially the descriptive writing.

      • QuiverPen says:

        Thanks JR – posting at work is, at times, detrimental to the formatting since they still use Internet Explorer 7 – none of the formatting ever sticks around. I think I’ll stick to posting from home.

        • Kerry Charlton says:

          A great write QuiverPen. You’re in a lot of company here. You will find the forum a great place to sharpen your prose as you read the stories and all the critiques here. We are a very friendly group. KC

          • BezBawni says:

            I couldn’t agree more with KC – this forum is indeed very friendly and welcoming.

            As for your story, QuiverPen, I almost expected the ‘toe-rug’ appear on TV when your MC switched it on and announce that he was the conqueror of the world)) However, your ending was much better than that.

  6. wohisme says:

    “Cheated death again”, I was on my cell having, yes, a real conversation with my late wife about the cab that very nearly ran me down. She wasn’t late as in deceased, she was late as in where you… honey? I was angry but I didn’t want the day to end on a sour note as it had been among the sweetest in our lives; punctuality aside, I was blessed to have her.

    We were on a mini vacation in NYC visiting old haunts and, like the rest of the world, celebrating New Year’s Eve; it’d be nice if she’d get here before midnight. “Here” was Uncle Daddy’s a neighborhood restaurant in Clinton a.k.a. Hells Kitchen.

    My uncle Pete founded Uncle Daddy’s it’s now run by cousin Sean. That night, pretty much everyone in the place was family by blood or by choice. Just feet from Time Square, it seemed a world away. At midnight a lone clock would announce the changing year; hugs and kisses to follow then back to the craic.

    The night changed though when Chronos, the archenemy of all living things came down to walk amongst mere mortal. He strode in as if he owned the place, after a brief, almost imperceptible hush, he proceeded to my table where, uninvited, he sat.

    “I think you have the wrong table”, I said angrily.

    “I think not”, he said, dismissively. My initial dislike of Chronos has grown over time, God forgive me, to full blown hatred.

    “That chair is my wife’s”, annoyed I added, “my late wife.” A shudder like I have never known passed through me as the words left my lips.

    He eventually said, “Here she is now”, a moment later the door opened and she walked in. Upon entering she winked at Sean; he brushed his nose with his finger as he pointed to where we were sitting. She’s always had a thing for Sean.

    She didn’t seem surprised to see Chronos, he stood allowing her to sit as he did he leaned in and said, “I gave you this day and all that preceded it, now one of you must go before year’s end.” The clock read 11:58. He added, ”Decide who or I’ll take you both.”

    The bar was again silent. I said, selfishly, “I’ll go.” No argument? I finally win one and it had to be this one! She smiled not at me but at… Sean!

    Uncle Daddy’s clock now read 11:59 as Chronos turned toward me an amazing and celebratory sound rolled over us like a tsunami whose epicenter was Time’s Square. The New Year had arrived and for a change, it was Chronos who was out of time!

    Leaving Chronos said, “I will win in the end, always do.”

    “Sorry for being late, I stopped here earlier to help Sean set the clock. Funny thing, it being set a minute behind and on New Year’s Eve too, go figure.”

    She pulled me to her and whispered, “Cheated death again.”

    • JR Buchanan says:

      Great story, I didn’t see the plot coming, and I’m always a fan of stories that I can re-read from a knowing perspective.

      I thought I caught a typo in the opening with “I was on my cell having…” however when I read it for the second time, I saw that you meant the character was on his phone. Also, I did get a little confused was there a time interval change from the first paragraph to the second? Not sure, but it made sense once I got to the end.

      Otherwise, really enjoyed the story.

      • wohisme says:

        Good Morning,

        I see your point, I wanted to get cheating death into the opening as a hint to where I was going and so I could tie back to it and reinforce it in the closing sentence.

        Glad you enjoyed it overall, thanks for the feedback!

    • Susan says:

      A very enjoyable read – witty, with a satisfying twist.

    • BezBawni says:

      I’m a bit confused here. Is Chronos the Greek god of time? and if yes, how on earth could he have missed the fact that the clock had been set wrong, moreover, why did he need the clock at all – he is the god of TIME. Anyway, I’m bent to like the idea (I like the narration), but I sort of feel the villain in your story doesn’t look very scary or powerful. I almost expected him to run into the sunset shouting ‘We’ll meet again!’ )))))

      • wohisme says:

        Of course you are right but Chronos is a small “g” god and, in Uncle Daddy’s anyway, Sean is the big “G” god. – Just being playful.

        I had written considerably more but given the 500 word limitation I had to brutally cut while trying my best to maintain the – time is our enemy – theme. Maybe I cut in the wrong places.

        Sorry for the confusion. As for Chronos’ power over time, my only defense is artistic license. I didn’t see any other way out. I thought about going with only the husband cheating death and a vengeful Chronos taking – unexpectedly – the wife but it seemed too dark; might have made for a better story though with a stronger antagonist.

        If you haven’t seen it, I would recommend a film starring Will Farrell, Stranger Than Fiction – I came across accidentally and I really liked it. This “Reply” reminded me of the film.

        Glad you enjoyed the narration and thanks very much for the feedback!

  7. Aragedy Kilof says:

    It had been one of those days you hope for when you plan a vacation. We had slept in a bit, only waking when the Umbrian sun streaming through the window of our pension had crept across the room to shine on our bed. A light lunch hike through the vineyards that surrounded the romantic city of Orvieto.
    Now we sat outside a restaurant, sipping the local white wine. The best part was how well Sharon and I were getting along. Our relationship had been horrible since her trip to LA, and I still did not know why. She had spent two weeks there “doing some accounting stuff for some movie.” Before the trip we had been so in love, the best relationship either of us had ever had. But when she returned, she had been cold and distant and her first night back, she told me that she wanted to end our relationship. I was heartbroken and depressed for weeks. I honestly thought that I would be taking this trip solo, but in the end the accountant in her just could not let go of her half of the pre-paid costs, so she had grudgingly come along if we slept in separate beds.
    The magic of Italy had done its wonders and things were almost back to normal. Maybe when we returned to Chicago things would be good again.
    My reverie was broken by the arrival of our antipasto. I took a chance and delicately picked up one of the melon slices and fed it to her. She leaned closer to me and I could feel the warmth of her skin as she brushed against me. I looked into her eyes, hoping to see my desire reflected there. And for a few seconds I did, but then they shifted to surprise and an almost animal hunger as she seemed to focus on something behind me.
    I turned and looked. Standing in the street just behind me was Orlando Bloom. He stepped to the side of our table, and said “Sharon, I’m sorry, I… I couldn’t stay away.” I was star struck. He looked even better in person than in his films and his accent was mesmerizing. And then it hit me. I stood up and looked and Sharon, then at him and said “So this is what happened in LA. You met Orlando Bloom and what? Cheated on me? This is the man that has ruined our relationship?”
    She never took her eyes off of him, and just said “I’m sorry, he is everything to me. I tried to be with you, I came on this trip with you, but Robert, its Orlando Bloom! Look at how perfect he is! I need to be with him.”
    Going on instinct, I stepped between the two of them and looked him in the eye. “You listen here Legolas. This is the love of my life. This is the woman I want to grow old with, the woman I want to have children with. When I’m with her the whole world is better. You can’t have her, she and I are meant to be together!”
    He stared back at me in disbelief and said “Sorry mate, we met, we fell in love, and now I can’t live without her. I’m obsessed, I have left my wife for her.”
    Instinct kicked in and I pivoted to face Sharon, dropped to one knee and took her hands into mine. “Sharon, my love, think of what we had before, and what we had today. It is more, it is deeper than a fling with a celebrity. Every day can be like this. I will follow whatever your heart decides, but know that no one can love you as deeply as I do.”
    Tears welled in her eyes as she looked at Orlando bloom, then back at me. She began to take deep breaths that teetered on the edge of becoming sobs. Then she pulled me towards her and kissed me ever so gently on the lips. “Robert, I have to choose you, how can I not, you are so sincere, so honest, so in love. I’m sorry, can you forgive me?”
    I returned her kiss and whispered “yes, of course” in her ears as we clung to each other. A glance behind me revealed that Orlando Bloom, softly crying, crouched in the gutter alone and devastated.

  8. THOUGHTFUL MAGIC
    ===================

    The life of a super-villainess was burdensome to Amy and when her fembot henchman, Stacey, suggested a vacation in her winter-lair on the Caribbean, she jumped at the opportunity and hopped on her jet.

    Free of the trials and tribulations of the super-rich and mega-evil, Amy discarded her mask, cleaned her face of dramatic makeup and let loose her fiery braid from bondage. The evening tropical breeze blew her hair behind her as ‘Her Royal Badness’ felt the sea mist tickle her nose.

    Walking alone, unaccompanied by her sultry henchbots, gave her much needed head space. Time to think always worked like magic when presented with a conundrum. Her superpower, being careful and deliberate, stood as the main distinction between her and her contemporaries. They cooled their heels in prison thanks to the city’s latest wisecracking hero-wannabe. He was good, but she was better, smarter, and not the least bit encumbered by little details like morality. Amy’s own brand of ethics served her well indeed.

    The dilemma in front of her now was plain. The smartass, hot on her case now, sniffed a little too close these days. He turned over many rocks and asked many questions. Clearly, such nonsense had to be curtailed.

    Amy, lost in thought over her nemesis, found herself far down the beach, her lair-away-from-lair hidden beyond a convenient stretch of rocky shoals. Music blared and garden lanterns shone brightly on the wooden boardwalk as it wound whimsically from the beach to the estate house above. She heard laughter and thought the distraction of drunken rich tourists would be entertaining if little else. Even a little old-school thievery could be on her docket tonight. The possibilities tumbled in her head like a kid’s candy dreams.

    With a sparkling smile, the red-haired beauty graciously accepted a drink and sought her unknown host. To her delight and surprise, she found a beacon of familiarity held upright by a pair of useless tarts. Tim Brandt, playboy and heir-apparent to billions, stood before her. Amy cursed her jealous spark and felt the blush of attraction heat her cheeks. Both she banished with an upturned glass. Upon laying eyes on Amy, he dismissed his escorts.

    “So, we meet again, Amy.”

    “But not for the last time, I fear,” she replied in what became a tired joke of awkward courtship.

    Tim waved his fingers for the wait staff to return, plucked two glasses of champagne off the tray, and handed one to Amy.

    “Drink with me,” he said.

    “What are we celebrating?” She couldn’t hide her girlish smile reflecting his wolfish grin. Amy chastened herself for such behavior but kept on smiling anyway.

    “To the end of the city’s crime wave.” He clinked his glass on hers and gulped heartily.

    “Oh, Really?” she said as she sipped her drink, the bubbles tingling her throat. “How can you be so sure? Have all the ‘baddies’ decided your money wasn’t worth the trouble?”

    “Something like that. Crime has no place in my city.”

    “Your city?” Something about that line tweaked a memory with her, something important.

    “A figure of speech. What brings Miss Amy Atlas to warmer climes?”

    “Winter, what else?”

    “Does your father know?”

    “Should he? Are you going to take advantage of me?”

    “I doubt that to be possible.”

    Thoughtful magic bore fruit once more as clarity dawned on Amy. The solution stood in front of her the whole time.

    “Perhaps, someday, but not tonight. If you’ll excuse me.”

    Amy handed her glass back to Tim, stunned by her sudden dismissal. She quietly slipped outside, flipped off her sandals, and sprinted barefoot back through the shoals along its secret path.

    Safely ensconced, Amy started laughing and singing. “Stacey! I know something you don’t know!” She spun around, arms held wide, as her brain worked the new reality. Stacey looked at her with calculated confusion.

    She sat on the floor and bade her gang, human and not, to join her. “Sit, my children. We have much to discuss. The hero’s been unmasked tonight.”

  9. After posting my story, I realized that a part of it would be better if I corrected it somehow. This is so embarrassing but pardon me. In the story, the main character receives a letter and the contents go, “In an hour.” I now realize if I leave it that way, it makes little sense. :( So I would write something like:

    Now, I sit here, holding the letter reading it nervously. I feel safe because I know Christian is away buying groceries for tonight’s dinner. The letter reads

    “I know you received all my letters. I know you agonized over them. And I know that you are dying to know who I am. Your curiosity will be satisfied, your dread finally know it’s cause tomorrow, at the hour of sunset. I will accompany your loved one. Wait for me”

    I breathe heavily as I look out the window and watch the sun begin to sink slowly in the horizon.

    The doorbell rings and I know it’s Christian. I know whoever stole my peace is with him. I open the drawer and get the pistol out…

    Please pardon my lack of practice and I will greatly appreciate any genuine feedback -positive or negative.

  10. Beads of sweat grow on my forehead and the fringe of hair across it feels damp. I grasp my spectacles with pressured fingers and adjust them on the bridge of my nose. The lamp on the table gives emits a dim light. The mug of coffee has grown cold on the left hand side of the table, untouched. I feel stressed.

    The letter arrived yesterday. Me and Christian -my boyfriend- were having a carefree conversation by the lake beside the cabin. I recall how light and free we both were, seated in wooden chairs side by side, our feet dippied in the water and smiling. The owner of the cabin we were staying in -an elderly, wrinkled gentleman- came toward us in his slow walk and I got up and went to him to spare him the exhaustion. He handed me an envelop.

    “Some people are good at finding things out,” he said. “I thought you said no one knew that the two of you came here on vacation?”

    My heart slowly becomes heavy inside my chest and as it slows its beating, I feel a chill in the pit of my stomach. Despite the turmoil going on inside me, I manage to smile at the old fellow, “Yes, that’s right, Mr. Wilkins. I wonder how whoever sent this letter found out where we were. But it’s okay. And thank you for delivering it to us.”

    Mr. Wilkins waves a hand in a gesture that said “That’s no problem” and walked back to his house. I didn’t dare even glace at the handwriting on the envelop. I knew who it was from. I shoved it in the my jacket pocket and went back to join Christian by the lake. He didn’t ask what Mr. Wilkins wanted and I certainly didn’t tell him.

    Now, I sit here, holding the letter reading it nervously. I feel safe because I know Christian is away buying groceries for tonight’s dinner. The letter reads

    “In an hour.”

    Nothing else. In an hour. I breathe heavily.

    The doorbell rings and I know it’s Christian. I open the drawer and get the pistol out. Christian has a habit of taking it with him when we go on long visits. I check if the pistol id loaded. It is. I hide it in pocket of my jean, compose myself and run to get the door. It’s him. With a woman. I recognize the face immediately. I’ve seen it many times appear in business magazines. The billionaire businesswoman Lily Tiger.

    What? How?

    It clicks to me in a blink that she the writer of all the anonymous letters I’ve been receiving last month. All the rambling about her and her affair with my boyfriend. Christian could at once tell from my face that something is wrong. I go mad but I keep my outer appearance smooth and calm. It’s them. Together. And now he knows that I know. Busted!

    I open the door wide and step aside for them to enter. I don’t say a word. I can feel my eyes eyes shine with madness. I lost my mind. They say that I had long ago lost my mind. They put me on drugs and forced me to take it each night. Only after I met Christian did I settle into a peaceful lifestyle and accepted it when he showed me that I needed help.

    Now I see it clearly. It’s clear as the blue sky. He was one of them. With her! Lily Tiger. I hate the name with all my strength. I lost my mind.

    I started crying out loud.

    “Shh.. Come here now,” says Christian. The woman is frightened. Liars! Trying to ‘reason’ with me. “It’s okay” He approaches me cautiously. I let out a scream like the mad woman I am. After all they tell me that I’m crazy. Why pretend otherwise?

    I pull out the pistol. I shoot the woman. She screams in pain and clutches at her stomach. And falls to the floor, writhing in pain. I smile. The billionaire Lily Tiger on all floors.

    Christian Jumps at me and the next few seconds go by in a blur. I see him grabbing the pistol from me. I don’t have time to blink. I hear a shot. Red hot pain shoot through my chest. I fall forward on to Christian as he grabs me. Too late. Blood is everywhere. Pain is everywhere.

    Christian. My last thought as everything goes black.

    • BezBawni says:

      Hi, Idont (I’m not sure how to call you, sorry:-) I’ve read both versions of your story and it’s good you revised it (that definitely gives us more details). The quite like the idea in your story and I definitely enjoy the last scene of the fight, especially the repeating of the words for emphasis, but on the whole the text is a bit messy and you might consider rereading it. For example there are typos (probably) like ‘gives emits’ or ‘the my jacket pocket’. You also jumped from present to past to present at one point. Anyway, once I was given the best piece of advice ever – read your story aloud and do it several hours after you’ve written it. Good luck)) and I’ll be looking forward to more contribution from you.

      • Hi! My name is senali. I’ll remember to mention it in my next contribution. :) Firstly Thank you very much for the feedback. Tbh, I did not re-read the story. My apologies for the typos and for the being a bit messy. I will definitely remember to do re-reading in the future. The reason was, I didn’t have a clear idea what an arch enemy was (English isn’t my mother tongue I’m from Sri Lanka) I had to look it up on google. And I had no idea how to build the story. The story kind of wrote itself, I just typed. I admit it could be better. Thank you very much for your genuine advice. I greatly appreciate it. :))

    • agnesjack says:

      Welcome, idont-

      BezBawni has given you some excellent advice (reading out loud really helps catch errors). You’ve written a rather dark story that has definite potential, but it is a little disjointed. For example, I couldn’t tell if it was all happening in her mind, or in reality. Also, it is way over the 500 word limit. Part of the exercise, here, I think, is to be able to tell a complete story within the word limit.

      I find if I write a draft in Word and then let it sit for a day, I am able to a) see the word count, and b) catch problems and errors that I had missed the first time around. As they say, writing is re-writing.

      I look forward to your next entry. You have a strong voice and this is a wonderful place to practice.

      • Hi agnesjack! My name is Senali. My screen name is due to the fact that I’m recovering from a major writer’s block. :) Thank you very much for the honest feedback. It’s very helpful to me. I admit that the story exceeded the word limit. I still find it kind of difficult to stay with in the 500 word limit. But I will see to it in the future.
        I just built the story as I went. I didn’t know how it was going to end until I found it out as I just went on typing. I still lack practice that might have caused the confusing state of the story. The story happens in reality. I’m sorry it wan’t that clear. Thank you very much for the comment. I greatly appreciate it. :D

    • Observer Tim says:

      Well, done, noblocks (my vote for your short name). One can tell from the writing that the main character is psychotic, and the story captures the essence of an episode as she slowly falls apart.

      I like the two-level response where she finds her arch-nemesis (Lily) and yet at the same time she is her own nemesis.

      In future you’ll have to watch the length (that’s part of the challenge) and do the clean-up work. BezBawni’s suggestion is an excellent one.

      Don’t sweat too much if it takes a while to learn how to grind the story down to 500 words; just try and get each subsequent piece a little closer. Going long puts you in good company; several of us had to learn to shorten things. Keep on writing!

      • Hi Tim! I like your suggestion noblocks. Thank you. :) And thank you very much for your feedback. I admit the story is a bit longer than it was supposed to be. I’m sorry about that. I’m still practicing to stay within the 500 word limit. Thank you for pointing that out. I greatly appreciate your advice thank you once more! :)

    • Susan says:

      Hi – welcome Idont – this is a very good read in parts. Thanks for sending in the amended bit, which does make the story clearer. It’s an interesting take on the prompt. I agree with what others have said about the need to edit,and the value of reading your draft out loud. As Tim says, you’re not alone in struggling with the word limit, but I think it’s good to try to stick to it, as it’s a great discipline. It’s often amazing how much you can cut a draft down if you go back to it after a day or two.

      • Hi Susan! Thank you very much for the feedback. I agree that I should’ve re-read the story before posting it. I’m sorry that I didn’t. And I will remember to do it in my future contributions. And also, with the word limit. I admit it was a bit difficult to end the story with 500 words. But I will practice that. Thank you very much for your advice. I greatly appreciate it. :D

    • Svapne says:

      Interesting story… I’d love to know if she was crazy or correct!

      I don’t know if this was intentional, but the choice of the name Christian instantly made me think 50 Shades. This would have been a much better end to that series. :P

  11. JR Buchanan says:

    This is my first time contributing, hope to do many more, appreciate any and all feedback. -JR. Buchanan

    Frankenstien by JR Buchanan
    He was a role model to me and he gave me my last name. His DNA enlaced my aura, my actions and my reactions. I looked like him, walked like him, talked like him, and mimicked his sayings and idioms. His charm and essence he used at one point to run for prime minister for a small island which made him famous, but not good enough to win. Quoted from my grandfather “He thought he could win off his name alone, he was too busy chasing tale” I remembered the foam hands, vote for me pins, the pens with his name engraved and the larger than life posters. I looked up to him, even in his absence from my world, only the fond memories remained and the only tools he taught me, I saw from the women crying in his life. He walked as if his testicles were made of gold, and as he gave me those family jewels of human charm to connect with the opposite sex, they adored my aura, my ability to master a room, the social engagement I commanded and demanded, they fell for me in droves, adorned me with their love and beckoned me to return the same. However with all gifts he gave, he never taught me how to love. His lack of love left me with the ability to not know how to love. I traveled the world and left broken hearts, stole cupid’s arrows and shot them aimlessly into the hearts of others, I created love and destroyed it, hearts fluttered at first but at the end they floundered in my failure to give them what they wanted. I relished in my conquests, but the failure to find true happiness ate away at me, it made me empty inside, but I charged forward because he was at my side invisibly. Until one day he left me alone, he gave himself to a woman he could call his own and he found love. In a flicker of a moment they were enthralled, engaged and decided to elope. As I was his only progeny, I was invited to bear witness to this moment at a ceremony on the island that made him famous, it was at this time that my solidarity crept in, and the thought of losing the one person who taught me everything except love made me envious and jealous, my mentor was now the cause of my mental menstruation. I was now alone and in my own thoughts of understanding that this gift, was no gift but a cursed moment of forever lust filled. The evening before they were to solidify their bond we celebrated. We danced on the beach, drank the rum of the Caribbean and got drunk, as he passed out in the sands of happiness I looked at him with disgust, how dare he father a monster, he was my Mary Shelley. Call it my curse, call it my gift, or call it the stupor that I was in, as I used every gift he gave me to take his bride to be. She succumbed to a desire that I knew oh so well. When the bells rang in the morning, of their joyous moment of unity, he stood in his best dressed waiting for her to stir through the crowd, but she never did, as I knew that I took from him what he never gave to me.

    -JR Buchanan

    • agnesjack says:

      Welcome, JR.

      This is a very atmospheric piece. It is almost dreamlike in its narration. I think it would benefit from paragraph separation, however. I found myself getting a little confused because there was no time to take a breath.

      This site is a wonderful place to practice the craft of writing, so I hope you will keep contributing. You have an interesting voice.

    • BezBawni says:

      I agree with agnesjack, your voice is very interesting – testicles of gold and mental menstruation were very vivid images, and the last line is just perfect. The title of the story is quite fitting too. I also agree about the spacing (got scolded on that aspect myself once))) Anyway, that was a very good story and I really enjoyed every bit of it)

    • Observer Tim says:

      Very intense tale, JR. I found it a little hard to follow (stream of consciousness always has that risk), but the style very much brought my mind back to the monster’s soliloquy in Shelley’s novel.

      It seems to me this is a story of a son getting revenge on a philandering father, eventually by stealing his bride to be. The son is so tied up in the Frankenstein idea, though, that he has built his own mental trap.

      This was a very good stepping-out story; my suggestions to you for growth are to break it up into paragraphs and work on the sometimes awkward grammar. Keep on writing!

      • JR Buchanan says:

        Thanks Observer Tim. Your assessment of the story line was right on. Agree that the paragraphs would help break it up and make it easier to follow, something I need to work on. @agnesjack said the same.

    • Susan says:

      Hi – welcome, JR – I enjoyed your vivid, powerful, emotionally charged story – as others have said, it could do with some paragraphs to break it up (BTW – if you paste from Word, ordinary paragraph spaces disappear here – you need to add them in, or double space in Word, I’ve found).

  12. Observer Tim says:

    And then I said to myself, “Tim, can you use this prompt for a story about other characters you’ve written about?” 537 words later, …

    MASQUERADE

    The Masquerade Ball is the highlight of the fairyland year, coming as it does on Samhain (that’s Halloween to us). Jenny had brought me here as a mini-vacation, and even let me have a free hand in designing our costumes. We were a robo-couple, and I have to say I had the most gorgeous robot in fairyland on my arm.

    When we got there the party was in full swing; apparently it had started almost a week before. Jenny, my wood-sprite exchange student girlfriend, introduced me to dozens of the people she’d grown up with. I hoped there wouldn’t be a test later. But I did notice one strange thing.

    “Jenny, why are there so few guys here? It’s almost all girls.”

    “Girls outnumber boys about 40 to one in fairyland. Boys have to be promiscuous, especially since only a few girls like me understand normality enough to get a human boyfriend. The competition’s pretty fierce.”

    That explained why all her friends greeted me with hugs and kisses, and why Jenny stayed closer to me than my left arm.

    * * *

    A while later, Jenny suddenly went quiet and pulled even closer to me than the slow dance we were doing merited. She looked terrified.

    Darth Satyr was striding purposefully across the dance floor, bee-lining it for Jenny. He had the black helmet, chestplate and cape, but the goat legs and obvious masculinity told me his intentions. As he passed, the crowd parted and turned to watch. When he arrived he took Jenny by the shoulder and turned her to face him.

    “Jennifer! I hoped you could come! You’re forty-nine now, and for a wood sprite that means ‘legal’.”

    Jenny was shaking as she held my hand in a death grip. “Lord Pan, I’d like you to meet my boyfriend, Tim.”

    “I’m sure I don’t care. Now come dance with me, my lovely. I’ve been waiting a long time for this.”

    It didn’t take a Ph.D. in biology to see where things were going. I thought of running with her, but that would be stupid. I wracked my brains; Jenny’d had me studying all manner of fantasy creatures, even Greek gods. There was only one thing I could do.

    “Let go of her, Pan. She doesn’t want you.”

    “Try and stop me, mortal.”

    He looked at me and I could sense his eyes narrowing even through the mask.

    “I challenge you to a contest, Pan.”

    He stopped tugging. “Go on.”

    “The first one to kiss Jenny stays with her.”

    “Deal.” He immediately snatched her away from me.

    That’s when I activated The Surprise. I’d intended to use it later as a cute stunt, but it was needed now. Jenny flew out of his arms and slammed into me, her chest and thighs impacting mine with a jarring metallic clang. My lips found hers while everyone, including Jenny, was staring in astonishment.

    Pan growled incoherently at me, but kept his side of the bargain. He left without a recognizable word.

    When we came up for air, Jenny looked stern. “That was very dangerous, Tim.”

    “You’re worth it.”

    “Um, why are we stuck together like this?”

    “Powerful electromagnets. It was supposed to be a romantic surprise.”

    She blushed. “Mission accomplished, lover-boy.”

    • don potter says:

      Magic, trickery and cleverness are all tools to use when dealing with an arch enemy. I enjoyed the conflict.

    • agnesjack says:

      Darth Satyr was vividly drawn in only a few lines. He made me want to run away.

      I like the fantasy world that you’ve created, and the idea that the gods can be cleverly challenged. My only question is — and this may be my lack of scientific knowledge — how is it possible to turn on and off electromagnets?

      • Observer Tim says:

        Thanks for the comment, agnesjack. I tried to think of what kind of Halloween costume Pan could wear. Clever challenges to the gods abound in Greek mythology, and weirdly enough the gods usually didn’t cheat!

        An electromagnet (a coil of wire around an iron core) is based on the idea that electricity in a wire creates a magnetic field; the magnet can be switched on and off by turning the power on and off. This is different from a “permanent” magnet, which is magnetic all the time by its nature.

    • frankd1100 says:

      Intriguing set up, Tim. We know the characters.

      Smooth transition to conflict, trial and victory. One for the good guys.

      Enjoyed this … Has me carrying the story on in my imagination.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        I not only could visualize the dance floor but also Pan’s hairy goat legs. Very visual in every aspect. And of course I loved the ending.

        Better throw the switch Tim, before you trip the breaker!

    • snuzcook says:

      Hero fights goat, wins wood-sprite. Classic plot.
      Fun story, fun setting, fun read. Loved the line “closer than my left arm.”

    • Susan says:

      Great fun, Tim – very witty and entertaining, excellent dialogue – loved it :)

    • Svapne says:

      Loved the Halloween concept! Great job!

      The only nit-picky thing I have to say, if the Jenny and Tim continuity is all cannon thusfar, is… when he awoke her from her never-ending dream, he kissed where her “real” mouth was… so did he actually succeed here, officially? That would also be a clever way of defeating Pan, had he planted a lip-lock on her Jenny make-up before Tim got a chance to make a move.

      • Observer Tim says:

        Ouch! Good catch, Svapne. Now watch while I try to weasel my way out of it …

        Jenny, thanks to her makeup kit, has both her natural magical form (a 9-inch tall sprite) and the mundane form she assumes with her Jenny dust (a 6-foot tall college girl)*. Jenny as a person is in fact both of these forms, similar to the particle/wave duality which quantum mechanics ascribes to light, or which Christian theologians use (with different terminology) to describe the combination of the human and divine natures of Jesus.

        The upshot of this is that a magical effect, such as the kiss of one’s true love to break an enchanted sleep, interacts primarily with Jenny’s magical form, and requires the dually symbolic kiss on her true lips/her human heart (technically a boob-smooch, but Tim isn’t complaining).

        A mundane effect, such as an “ordinary” kiss, even if taken in response to a divine challenge, instead acts on her in a normal human manner, and so uses her mundane form lips, with no movement of robot costume-bits required.

        * Re Jenny’s height: note that in “The Formula”, both Steve and Tim grew taller when they turned into Jenny. They are about average height (5’8″-5’10″ for a male), so Jenny must be a bit more than that. A simple 8-fold increase in height makes numerological sense.

      • Observer Tim says:

        Oh, and another point of continuity. In proper chronological order, I had intended the dream incident to be in the second (post-Christmas) semester, while this is obviously in the first. So that story comes after this one.

        It may seem strange, but that actually matters to the imagined continuity of these characters.

        • Svapne says:

          Nice weasel-ing! I suppose also, with the bargain he made, it didn’t have to strictly be a kiss to the lips. It could have been anywhere and still worked, though the intention was pretty clear.

          If you care so about continuity, does that mean there’s a larger story in the works? I’d love to read more of them!

          (Remember those demons of mine? I’m turning them into a project too. I never thought I’d actually do more than exercise my writing muscle here… and I don’t think it would be possible without the post-that-wasn’t-there getting so ridiculous. So thank you for that!)

  13. JRSimmang says:

    Round Two:

    LOVE IS PATIENT; LOVE IS KIND

    I turned 840 on Wednesday. That’s forty times twenty-one, and I had been drunk forty times over since Wednesday night. My wife told me I was getting ahead of myself, that my 840-year old liver and kidneys couldn’t handle a drunk’s lifestyle anymore. I told her I was 840, and that she could just keep talking because I wasn’t listening.

    I couldn’t listen. I thought people were immortal.

    Turns out, the only other immortal died on my birthday. Happy fucking birthday to me. I guess I could finally take a vacation.

    William Dicrest. That was his name. We’d known each other since 1193, the Crusaders class. There was a lonely road through England. We happened to be there at the same time. In nature, they say, things that are alike, tend to grow together.

    He couldn’t fly. He didn’t have laser vision. He wasn’t stronger than the average man. He suffered like I did. Wake up one day and the woman you love is dead, and you realize you haven’t aged in the past 80 years. We’d lost contact after the Crusades were over.

    I’d grown bitter, I guess. There was only so much grief I could pile onto myself. I guess I took it out on a few people. He, on the other hand, became a hero. A celebrity, though he could walk down the street unnoticed. I suppose that’s what a hero should be. Save people in such a way they think they’re saving themselves.

    I set down my lowball of Hendricks and looked at my hands. I turned them over, still damp from the rains the night before my birthday. I couldn’t shake that night out of my head.

    “You can’t go on living like this!” Dicrest screamed at me.

    “I’m immortal, you idiot. And, so are YOU!” I screamed back. The rain was unforgiving that night, making every sound struggle to find an ear.

    “You’re right,” he said as he stepped toward me. “This is no coincidence, Gregor, that you and I are here, in this place. We have a duty to them, to be their wardens, their protectors. You and I are the only ones who can do this!”

    I was getting drenched, but it was nothing compared to the blood that had been spilled earlier.

    “I know you loved her. I know you loved all of them!” he yelled, and took another step closer. “Lord knows I loved as well. It’s our curse, as it is our gift, to see life through to its completion.”

    “You can’t say that, William!” I tightened my grip around the hammer in my hand, the head already washed clean. “We may live forever, but we are still human.”

    He sighed deeply, his body heat creating a ghostly aura around him. Even in this state, he still seemed noble, elegant. “Yes. We are. But we have to accept this. We only have each other here. We have to be strong for one another.”

    He was right. “Tell me, then, when it will be our turn to have tears shed over us.”

    He shook his head. “I don’t know, William.”

    I moved quickly. I dropped my hammer and brought my hands to his neck. I had to see. I had to see if it was possible. I had to see if we were capable of death.

    He didn’t struggle. Perhaps he, too, was curious if there was ever going to be an end. He was tired of cleaning up my messes, and I was tired of making them. Death, to an immortal, is no different. It comes swiftly, deliberately, and there is always one last breath.

    I checked the bottle of Hendricks on my desk. Nearly empty. I had to have a hero, now that mine was dead. Happy fucking birthday. Enjoy your vacation, Gregor.

    - JR Simmang

  14. snuzcook says:

    (last minute submission–should be packing!)

    MY PERFECT LIFE

    It had been a year to remember. My brand new diploma had landed me a great entry-level job at Microsoft. Even better, I had taken an insignificant little piece of computer code my Dad and I wrote when I was in high school, and found a use for it in a new software package being developing. I was able to sell it to Microsoft, pocketing a nice piece of change. I used some of that money to finance a vacation trip to Cabo for me and my fiancée, Samantha.

    I was on the beach, three weeks later, soaking in the afternoon sun. Samantha’s flight was due in soon, and I had the perfect romantic evening planned.

    My phone buzzed.

    “Oh, Rob!” It was Samantha’s just-about-to-throw-a-tantrum voice.

    “What’s wrong?”

    “I’m stuck in LA. There’s been some sort of computer glitch, and airline can’t find my reservation, and now they’re telling me there’s a hold on my credit card! See what you can do from your end!”

    I trotted the short distance from the beach to the hotel lobby.

    “Mr. Hanson, there’s a call for you. We can transfer it to your room phone if you like.” I nodded and started upstairs. “Oh,” she called after me, “You’ve had several calls. The messages were forwarded to your room.”

    When I got to my room, the video phone was buzzing. I punched up the call.

    “This is Rob.”

    The image came into focus. I recognized the black turtle neck first, then the familiar strong jaw and hawk nose became clear. He was older now than the photos I had seen of him with my dad when they were in school together. We’d never met, but I had followed his famous career, like the rest of the world.
    “Do you know who this is?”

    “Yes, Mr. Jobs. What can I do for you?”

    “I understand you’ve sold something that didn’t belong to you.” I started to protest, but he stopped me. “Don’t bother to argue. I’ve heard it all before. Just know this: I’m taking you down. By the time I’m done with you, your perfect little life will have all been a dream.”

    “But, you can’t do that. I didn’t do anything wrong!”

    “Maybe, just maybe, you can prove that to me someday. But right now I’m leaving for Hong Kong on a five-week lecture tour. My lawyers will be in contact.”

    My head was spinning. What did he mean, my perfect little life?

    “Oh, and Rob? You should know, Bill has gotten very gun shy about lawsuits recently, so I don’t think he’s going to be too happy with you, either.”

    The screen went blank. Messages popped up: Three from Microsoft and a message from my bank.

    I called down to the concierge desk. “I need to book a flight to Hong Kong as soon as possible.”

    The concierge cleared his throat. “I’m sorry, sir, but my computer is showing an alert on your account.”

    • Kerry Charlton says:

      The more I read, the more I began to sweat. This nightmare is as realistic as anybody could write. But for the false update on someone’s credit report, any one’s life could come crashing down. Merely a button in smeone’s wrong finger.

      A great response to the prompt, snuzcook. Are you carrying plenty of cash with you? You better. KC

    • Ted says:

      Ha, ha. I loved it.

    • JRSimmang says:

      There certainly is mounting suspense here. I’m wondering what’s going to happen to Samantha. She already sounds freaked out.

      • snuzcook says:

        Poor Samanth, stuck in LA and clueless about the unseen powers toying with her like a rubber ducky in Rob’s bath water.
        I’ll have to come up with something to save her, since Rob has other priorities to attend to.
        Glad you enjoyed it!

        • JRSimmang says:

          You’ll need the nerdy computer expert with little-to-no people skills to save her. Of course, he offers to have her sleep on his couch, which is covered with empty Ramen cups and soda bottles, DIET soda bottles, because he’s “watching his weight.”

          • snuzcook says:

            Poor Samantha. She picks her way through the debris field that is her host’s apartment to consider the offered sleeping arrangement. She holds her phone in both hands as tightly as if this last remnant of her normal life might skitter away.
            She punches up Rob’s number while the nerd searches the kitchen for her for a plain bottled water. The call connects.
            “Rob?” Samantha’s voice is little more than a strangled squeak. “You’ve got to get me out of here!”
            A mechanical recording cuts her off: “We’re sorry, but your call cannot be completed at this time.”

    • agnesjack says:

      Snuzcook — the rivalry continues on, even after Jobs’ death.

      This was a fascinating take on the prompt, not only because of the use of the Microsoft/Apple duels of the past, but the not-so-outrageous idea that one’s life could be sabatoged by computer hacking. Yikes!

    • don potter says:

      Business adventures can be more dangerous than the thickest jungle in the world. There is no forgiving from these predictors. You captured the spirit of what can happen to the naive little folks when they try to play ball with the big guys.

    • BezBawni says:

      I’d rather the infamous novel about a certain number of hues of a certain color started with your little story – there would have been much more action in those three books.)))) A good take on the prompt, snuzcook.

    • calicocat88 says:

      Oh, boy. This guy is in trouble, lol! Very enjoyable! I can just feel the “oh, crap” moment here.

    • Observer Tim says:

      Thank God there are laws that would prevent about a third of this from happening.

      Excellent story, snuzcook.

    • Toni Smalley says:

      Well, on the bright side, he’s stuck on a beach with no money. He could be stuck on a ski hill in Switzerland, brrrrr…great setup to what I feel would be a very suspenseful thriller as the man tries to track down Jobs and get his life together. Nice :)

      • snuzcook says:

        Thanks, Toni. (Glass half-full kinda person, aren’t you?)
        Fun idea–Amazing Race meets My Perfect Life = “Jobs Search?”
        Thanks for your comments; glad you enjoyed it!

    • Real and frightening, Snuzcook. It doesn’t take much, does it? Some feedback if you like: Your opening two paragraphs were passive. Take a look at ‘had’ and ‘was’. Trust your verbs and all that jazz. I really enjoyed the dialog.

  15. calicocat88 says:

    He collected souls for a living. River knew that much about the man who had become her unspoken enemy. She had gotten a letter—she guessed he was too suave for e-mail—in a white envelope written in beautifully crafted calligraphy. In it was a bunch of junk about how her mother never told him about her and how he had loved her mother more than she did him.

    Lies.

    At the bottom it was signed, just one name, Lucian. River jotted down the time and place for their meeting and then tossed the letter in the fire. If her father was who he said he was, then torching anything would please him.

    It was raining by the time she got down to the beach. The condo was only a few yards away and the waves were licking up at the white shoreline like turquoise flames. River had tied her hair back in a pale green scarf to keep it from falling victim to the heavy breeze. Not that it really mattered since she was already drenched and her eyes were getting raped from the salty air.

    When she saw him, he was standing at the shore with his hands clasped behind his back. He was wearing a white sweater over khaki pants that were rolled up to his ankles and dampened. A couple gathering their things about to head in from the rain kept shooting fearful glances his way. They knew who he was. Whether anybody wanted to admit it, he was the most recognizable being besides God.

    “Like your mother, you’re always late,” Lucian turned to River and offered his hand. “My little girl, I knew the day would come when you would find me.”

    River looked at his hand as if it were a slimy eel and faced the waves building and crashing underneath the darkened sky. “You hunted me down. I was perfectly fine were I was.”

    “Not knowing who you really are?” He said, and forced her to take his hand. It was surprisingly cool and soft and a little wet from the rain. There were churches that would freak if they found out that everything they knew was, basically, backwards.

    River did her best to not chew a hole in her lip. “I don’t believe you.”

    “You have your mother’s diary,” he said. “Keep reading and I promise you won’t have choice.” River felt a flower of doubt bloom inside her chest. “Have you considered your options?”

    She snapped her head to look up at him. Lucian’s eyes smiled back, dark and rich. His light hair was a shock in comparison. “I’m not doing it. I don’t know what made you think I would help you, but you’ve got the wrong girl.”

    He squeezed her hand. “You’re my girl. And the only one that can help me win this.”

    She jerked her hand away. “You want to start a war with the angels. Do you have any idea what that would do to human beings—to my world? Didn’t you learn you lesson the first time?” Something like lightening flashed in her father’s eyes and she looked down at the shells scraping over her feet. “I won’t be a part of this. I’ll never give in.”

    “Your mother thought she was strong too,” he started to walk away, and turned for a moment to toss a silver rope. River caught it and was confused to see a silver chain hanging a gorgeous sapphire pendent with tiny diamonds tracing the edges. “I had given it to your mother when she was young. If you decide to change your mind, hold it and think of me.”

    River watched her father, the most feared being on earth, walk away and drive off in a black mustang convertible. Any unsuspecting human would think he was just some rich doctor on vacation with his sweet family. But there wasn’t anyone that unsuspecting that wouldn’t know who he really was.

    She turned back at the waves and lifted her face to the sky with tears rolling down her cheeks. How could God have made her the daughter of pure evil?

    • don potter says:

      This kind of tale is totally frightening. The manner in which you told it made it even more frightening.

    • agnesjack says:

      An interesting and frightening idea, Calicocat. After all, the devil is the ultimate arch-enemy. She shouldn’t be too worried about him wanting to start a war with the angels, however. That idea didn’t work too well the first time around (especially if you’ve read, “Paradise Lost”).

      I was a little confused about who the mother was and how the daughter came to be, but the characterization of the father in his human form was really unsettling.

      • calicocat88 says:

        agnesjack, I actually love “Paradise Lost” :) One of my favorites! I wish I could have had more space for some kind of explanation of River’s existence and what-not, though. Thanks!

    • seliz says:

      I loved this. It was beautifully written and very compelling. Good job!

    • Mittens1326 says:

      Gave me chills!! I want to read more… Loved it!

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Calico,

        You’ve surpassed anything that I’ve had the pleasure to read that you’ve written before. Not only are your descriptions right on key, but they are also mesmerizing.
        This is actually a story of hope and promise. If she were the devil’s daughter, why would he ask for her help?

        She holds the key to power over the devil, merely by her eternal belief in angels. I thought it beautiful, not frightning. We all hold the same key against the devil. All we have to do, is use it.

        You need to submit this story. Don’t touch it! KC

        • calicocat88 says:

          Kerry, you just blew me away, lol! I’m actually at a loss for words. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Don’t know where I should submit it, lol, but I won’t touch it ;)

      • calicocat88 says:

        Mittens1326, thanks so much :) Happy you liked it!

    • JRSimmang says:

      Would her last name be Styx, by the way? Great choice on the names as it is; they bring another level of depth to the characters. Also, I have to agree with the rest of the board here. Your voice is as sinister as the situation, haunting, ethereal. I would recommend toning down the melodrama at the end, which I’m sure you will resolve when you finish the story out and submit it in for publishing.
      Nicely done.

      • calicocat88 says:

        Thanks JR :) In all honesty, I wasn’t happy with the ending, but was at a loss. I’m racking my brain trying to figure out what’s appropriate and what will make me happy.

        • Susan says:

          Very powerful, Calicocat – suspenseful and intense, and I like the ending.

          • calicocat88 says:

            Thank you Susan :) I always worry if I’m building the right kind and amount of tension in a story. I still don’t care for my ending, but if you like it, then I’m happy!

        • JRSimmang says:

          I keep thinking about how powerless River feels at this moment, but how in control of the situation she actually is. Her father wants her on his side. She’s holding the deck here, as KC says. There needs to be a hint of this realization.

          As for the Mustang, I almost think it would have been more powerful for Lucifer to unleash just a little destruction as he left in flame or some sort of explosive concussion, displaying his power to River, reminding her that he is dangerous. My two cents, of course. The story is certainly intriguing.

    • BezBawni says:

      You’re a master of supernatural, calicocat. I always enjoy reading your stories. What happened to those hilarious demons you introduced us to in the never-ending-dream prompt? I miss them and I would love to see them again. I’d be overexcited if you could reintroduce them some time))))

      • calicocat88 says:

        BezBawnie, firstly, thank you very, very much :) Secondly, if the prompt fits them, next time I’ll do my best to write about our demon buddies just for you. (Wow, that sounded creepy, lol!)

    • Observer Tim says:

      Oh yeah, blame God. ;)

      Actually Calicocat, I really liked this. The story is well-told and with beautiful images of a disturbing subject.

      Now to play Style Nazi:

      I hate to say it, but the whole ‘collecting souls’ thing is kind of superfluous to this particular tale. He’s in a bind (’cause he’s way behind), so he’s calling on his daughter.

      I think Satan would have perfect grammar – his last quote should begin “I gave it to your mother …”

      The second-last paragraph needs a bit of work to bring it up to the standards of the rest of the piece.

      • Observer Tim says:

        With apologies to Charlie Daniels.

      • calicocat88 says:

        Thanks Tim :) I’m glad you liked it! Can you explain a little more about how “collecting souls” is superfluous? I just want to understand better. Why do you think Satan would have better grammar? Lol, just curious. And I agree with the second to last paragraph. It makes me grimace.

        • Observer Tim says:

          The comment about reaping souls doesn’t seem to be connected to the rest of the story, as far as I can see. The impression I get is that daddy’s trying to recruit her for something that will more directly piss off the gang upstairs. The collecting of souls is part of a larger context than this incident, and so would be very appropriate in the novel/novella this could be a part of.

          I accuse Satan of perfect grammar because, as a tempter, he has to be very familiar with ‘weasel words’. Using them with anything less than impeccable grammar lowers credibility. Also, I may not like what the devil is up to, but I can’t say he isn’t skilled at it.

          But also note that these three minor items are the only things that give me real trouble here. I believe you could write this into a novel about how River reacts – will she live up to her heritage, or down to it, or will she try to escape? I would buy that novel, especially if the whole thing has writing of this calibre.

    • snuzcook says:

      As said more eloquently by the others already, a beautifully written story that communicates the agony of the MC’s situation, while offering the option of a longer exploration.
      Now, what will you do with it?

  16. don potter says:

    It has been said that everyone has an arch enemy in their life. Some, like me, are not even aware of who they are or what’s behind the animosity. But this all came to light when my wife and I were on vacation.

    “Haven’t been this wiped out in a long time,” I told my wife after a day of marlin fishing.

    “Think how the poor marlin must feel,” she replied.

    “Can’t, I’m too tired.”

    “Why don’t you take a nap. I’ll do some browsing in the shops, and you can meet me in the super club. They have a surprise celebrity singer performing at the eight o’clock dinner show. So don’t be late.”

    “Okay, see you then,” I said and slid under the covers and off to sleep.

    I woke with a start, and looked at the clock on the night stand. It was 7:45. Betsy was expecting me to meet for dinner in fifteen minutes. If I hurried, I wouldn’t be too late. A quick shower and shave had me on my way by 8:15.

    I entered the showroom and surveyed the darkened room but did not see Betsy. On stage performing was a person from my past, Sandy Thomas. I had not seen him in years, but I knew the ladies liked him and his love songs. And there he was the surprise guest gushing out mushy ballads to a bunch of middle-aged housewives.

    Then, I remembered back in high school he was kinda sweet on Betsy but never got to first base with her, because she and I were going steady. He never liked me much because of that.

    When my eyes got acclimated to the darkness, I spied Betsy sitting at a table right in front of Sandy with his tuxedo, tan and silver hair. Rather than interrupt the performance, I stood in the back and did a slow burn.

    After a couple of numbers, Sandy asked the waiter to bring him a bottle of champagne with two glasses. He had the man fill the glasses and gave one to Betsy while he held the other one. They clinked glasses and he sang a love song. Not for her but to her.

    I was ready to march right onto the stage and sock him in the jaw. Guess he still had it in for me after all these years. Why else would he do a thing like that?

    So I made my way down to her table and asked her to dance, while Sandy had no choice but to sing for the rest of the audience. We hadn’t connected on the dance floor like that in a long time.

    After Sandy’s act was over, he left the stage without saying a word. I looked across the table at Betsy.

    “You look beautiful tonight,” I said.

    “And, my love, a little jealousy becomes you,” she replied.

    Nothing more was mentioned about the incident, but it sure did add some spark to a smoldering romance. If I ever run into old Sandy again, I’ll be sure to thank him.

  17. frankd1100 says:

    Rafe and I had been friends since second grade. Senior year he nosed me out for Valedictorian but I won the hand of Melinda Albright, the top math student in our class who made ‘nerdishness’ look hot. He never forgave me for it.

    Melinda and I were married right after college. Rafe declined to attend.

    He became a successful attorney and later, a US Senator from Texas. Melinda got a Phd in mathematics from MIT and we moved to Maryland. She went to work for the government and I completed my medical training in plastic surgery at Johns Hopkins. Though Rafe lived and worked not far from us in D.C., he never reached out and neither did we.

    My research was near production of a synthetic skin for patients so severely burned a graft was impossible. After a major breakthrough in July I applied for a grant to fund final FDA approval and the commercial launch of the material. Preliminary word from the committee was that the grant was a no brainer.

    On decision day we were excited, optimistic and ready to celebrate when the call came in. Melinda answered my cell phone as I stood over the stove, pausing over the lasagna I was preparing for dinner.

    She seemed incredulous turning to me as the call ended and said simply, “Your grant was denied.”

    “Did they give a reason,” I asked? “I thought it was guaranteed!”

    “Apparently the shutdown left the committee short staffed, she said. “An intern has been assigned to deny all grant applications.”

    An hour later I answered my cell, momentarily confused at hearing Rafe’s voice identifying himself as Ted.

    “I’m sorry about the grant,” he said. “It’s ironic that while doing what’s best for America, I’ve torpedoed your shot at becoming a billionaire.” He paused for an instant then said, “Sometimes you get the peanut and sometimes the shell.” He clicked off before I could respond.

    A month later I was in the lab preparing for resubmission when I was called to surgery, ‘stat!’ The chief resident briefed me as I exited the elevator.

    “He was in a horrific accident,” she said. “There is significant face, head and neck trauma and because he’s a US senator the Director insisted we call you in as primary.”

    I scrubbed and gowned while the resident reviewed the patient chart with me. The team was in place as I approached the patient.

    The Surgical Nurse Practitioner said, “It’s Senator Cruz from Texas. He’s burned 60% of his body leaving us little area for grafting.”

    “The President asked to have you use your synthetic skin if that will save him.”

    “It hasn’t been approved,” I said.

    “Well, the President issued an emergency exception in this case.”

    “And if something goes wrong,” I said? “I don’t think so.”

    Addressing the unconscious, horribly disfigured face on the table before me I said, “Sorry Ted. Sometimes you get the peanut and sometimes the shell.”

    • don potter says:

      Although I doubt if this President would order any extraordinary measures be performed on Ted Cruz, I would have ho[ed the doctor would have been true to his oath. Besides the schmuck would have made his synthetic skin would have gained great acclaim. So he cut off his nose to spite his face. Oh, that’s okay, he’s a plastic surgeon.

      • frankd1100 says:

        Actually he did honor his oath using traditional surgical practice leaving Ted better looking than he was before. Oh, and the synthetic skin turned out to be fatally destructive in final testing …

        • Susan says:

          Ouch! A nasty little tale of revenge. Saw the ending coming, but like Agnes and Don kinda hoped the MC would show some compassion and take the moral high ground – you end up feeling he’s no better than the other guy.

    • agnesjack says:

      This was very inventive. I have to agree with don potter, however, about his reluctance to get his invention approved. If he had used the synthetic skin on Rafe/Ted, that would have been the ultimate irony, and it would have made him a better man than the unforgiving, grudge-holding Rafe/Ted.

    • seliz says:

      Whew, it seems as if these two will always be enemies. There is some deep seeded anger between the two! As far as whether he should have done it or not, who knows, things get messy in medicine and politics (hopefully not too literally on the medicine end though).

    • BezBawni says:

      So cruel! So much for redeeming characters and saving cats, I guess)

    • Observer Tim says:

      This is a well-crafted story and an excellent cautionary tale. On several angles.

      This whole story could have gone either way. My take is that the surgeon did take the ethical high road in not using an unproven technique on his ‘enemy’. One of life’s small tragedies is that not everything is perfect.

      • frankd1100 says:

        Thanks Tim and wise words.

        You remind me, the older I am the more I understand the only definitive point in life is the end. Along the way are degrees between trial and error, right and wrong, success and failure, sickness and health, love and hate. Luck has a lot to do with the side of the equation one is sitting on at the final instant.

    • snuzcook says:

      Aw, really? It’s too bad the MC ends up losing everything in the law suit that Ted’s family files years later after the knee-jerk legislation is passed making it a criminal act to withhold even an experimental treatment of it is the only chance available.
      Well written and entertaining story!

  18. BezBawni says:

    (Why not make a tough prompt even tougher? I thought. It seems, not unlike one of my favorite characters I like going to extremes. I decided I’ll try the fantasy genre and to solve the problem of the word count, please consider I’ve just posted two stories (well, maybe one and a half)))

    ***
    When the seventh moon began to wax, we saw the emerald mountains and the white beaches of the Isle of Sirenia – the island of pleasure. I came closer to the bow of our speeding ship and inhaled the smell of cinnamon, honey and fresh leaves that started to suffuse the salty sea breeze. So far our quest had been fruitless, but the island was at least a pleasant distraction.

    Arien, the annoying blue-haired reason why I was roaming the seas instead of guarding the Divide, touched me on the shoulder.

    “It seems we’re about to have a little vacation,” I said to her.

    “We can’t stop here,” she said, glaring towards the island. “I can hear nothing but lust and avarice.”

    “I can hear one more thing,” I said. “Bigotry.”

    She gave me an ice-cold stare. The mind of the Guardians was closed to the gemynd folk, but I wished she could read mine and see that humor (and her promise to help me return to the court of the Ruler) was the only thing that still kept me going. I stopped smiling and turned Arien around by the shoulders.

    “Look at them,” I said pointing at our crew: the fauns, filthy and disheveled, were scuffling to and fro, the hermeses were sitting at the mast, quite pointlessly trying to dry their wings, even the always gorgeous amazons were a rueful sight, only the few gemynds who Arien had willed into following her on the quest of finding their lost king were royally strolling about the deck in their spotless jade cloaks. Arien closed her eyes and nodded with a sigh.

    “Great!” I declared. “I guess we deserve a week of ambrosia wine and mermaid belly dancers.”

    “A week??” Arien’s jaw dropped.

    “Fine, two days. Please, just two days.” My voice was almost pleading.

    “Count today as the first,” she said and left me alone and defeated.

    ___

    We had hardly stepped onto the shore when a swarm of enchanters almost swept us off our feet. The maids led us through hanging tousles of flowers and lianas into a paradise of waterfalls around an azure lake, whimsical marquee tents with viands and wine, flowerbeds and geyser baths – all crowded with creatures of all races, or so it seemed – the only gemynds there were the members of our crew. The longing for drinks and a hot bath got so strong that I started itching on the inside.

    “I can’t believe it!” exclaimed Arien, and I hoped she meant the beauty of the feast, but then I followed her gaze. The tall stone dais in the middle of the lake was occupied by a dozen of mermaids, rubbing oil into the most notorious witch in the Land of Spirits – the Priestess of the North, who was also the divine and lascivious reason why the Ruler of the Land had exiled me to the cliffs of the Divide. The words were out of my mouth before I knew it.

    “Gracious me! Not her again…”

    “You know her?” said Arien, giving me an astonished look.

    “Who doesn’t?” Now I was glad she couldn’t read my mind.

    “Let’s go and talk to her. She rubs shoulders with all kinds of scum, she must have heard rumors.”

    “Rubs shoulders indeed,” I muttered with disgust.

    “Sorry?”

    “I said we can’t.”

    “Why not?”

    “She’s—in the middle of the lake!”

    Arien puffed and walked past me right into the water. I rolled my eyes and followed her. The Priestess’s guards rose out of the water as on cue, but the witch waved them away giving me a smile as charming as a viper’s scowl.

    “Prominus, I thought we’d never meet again,” the Priestess purred.
    I didn’t see Arien’s eyes, but I could swear she wanted to slap me really hard.

    “So did I,” I said, “But don’t flatter yourself. I’m not here for you. Let me introduce Arien, daughter of air. She is certain you know something about the disappearance of the King of Gemyndia.”
    The Priestess didn’t take her laughing eyes off me.

    “I sure do,” she said, stroking the hair of a mermaid, and her smile moved to one side. “You’ll find it on your ship if you get on it and away from the island right now.”

    Arien took a breath of hope and bowed in gratitude to the Priestess who waved her away – the viperous eyes still on me. I made as if to follow Arien to the shore.

    “Do I see anger?” I heard the Priestess say. I stopped and looked around.

    “You’ve just ruined the only vacation I’ve ever had in my life,” I said through my teeth. “And simply for your own enjoyment, at that! So, among my hatred, repulsion and abhorrence, yes, there is anger.”

    “Feel free to take it out on me any time,” she said and lay down into the arms of giggling mermaids – satisfied.

    “Aw, I will,” I muttered under my breath and headed back for the ship.

  19. It was our first day in paradise; the water, just a perfect shade of blue. I pulled up my swim trunks and threw on a t-shirt, ready to head down to the water. My wife, in the bathroom, was still trying to fix her bikini. She had to make sure it looked perfect, so I stood there for another fifteen minutes.

    “Finally!” I said with a sound of relief after she walked out of the bathroom. I then realized I didn’t really mind that she took so long, because man, did she look fine. “Mhm,” I murmered as she walked by. I think she might have added a little shake into her walk as we walked down the hallway to the elevator, but I didn’t ask.

    She stood in front of me and pushed the arrow, down. We stood there and waited and she turned back around to me and smiled, “I love you babe. Thanks for this trip.”

    I brought her into my arms and held her there until the elevator opened. Both of our mouth’s dropped when we realized who was standing right in front of us. It was Ryan Gosling. And may I point out, Ryan Gosling, with no shirt on. His perfectly chiseled abs, which had to be fake, and his flowing hair. Well, my wife noticed that too.

    She didn’t say anything to him as she made her way into the elevator and left me to stand and gawk from the other side of the doors. I must have looked like a fool because he said, “Are you coming, Buddy, or what?”

    I nodded and quickly walked into the elevator. He pushed the button to the ground floor and we all just stood there in silence. I was surprised to find that my wife didn’t completely stare at him. She did however look over at me with big eyes and point in his direction for only us to see.

    As we were approaching the ground floor, the lights overhead of us flickered and the elevator stopped abruptly, making us all fall to the ground. I scrambled to my feet and helped up my wife, steadying her hand on the rail before Ryan could, as he had gotten up first and tried to help her up. I know now that he was just trying to be helpful to a young woman, who had just fallen, but at the time it made me really angry.

    When the elevator didn’t move, we tried all of the buttons to no avail. Then, Ryan picked up the phone and started talking in it. I heard him tell the whole story. My wife and I just stood there, her arms wrapped around my arm. I put my hand on the curve of her back and comforted her.

    Ryan hung up the phone and said, “Looks like it was a failure. Unfortunately, the elevator is stuck. They are on their way.”

    It seemed like it took forever and it did. We sat in there for 12 hours before anyone came to open the little hatch at the top of the elevator and save us from this torture.

    It was supposed to be a vacation away and we were stuck in an elevator with, none other than, Ryan Gosling. I don’t know which was worse, seeing the way my wife would blush after looking at his shirtless body or the way that he would seem interested in her even though, her husband was sitting right next to her.

    Ryan, of course, was the first one they lifted through the hatch. My wife was next and then me. When we finally saw the sunshine again and got out of the elevator shaft, my wife turned and looked at Ryan. “It was a pleasure.” She put out her hand and he shook it.

    “The pleasure was all mine. I would like to invite you to my upcoming premiere tomorrow night. Would you and your husband be interested in coming? It’s the least I can do.”

    We ended up having a nice time for the rest of our stay. We went to the premiere and even when all of the cameras were on him, he didn’t seem as arrogant as I had made him out to be.

    When we first got stuck in that elevator with him, I was sure that he was my arch enemy but it wasn’t until I sat down on the beach and thought about it, I realized it wasn’t him at all. It was the elevator that was my arch enemy. Every day after that when we passed that elevator, I shook my head in disgust. That elevator was going to pay.

  20. agnesjack says:

    The first time I sensed the darkness was the summer my best friend Eddie died. Eddie’s family rented a summer cabin right next to ours. I have three sisters, so it was great having another boy to hang out with and Eddie was a character. At the beginning of each summer he’d press his face against our screen door and yell, “Hey, Doooooooo-fus!” He wasn’t being mean. He just liked to say it, stretching the “oo” out for as long as he could. At the end of each summer, he’d lean halfway out the car window before his dad pulled away, give me an exaggerated salute and say “See ya!” We’d spend the summer climbing trees, swimming and trying to catch fish with a worm tied onto the end of a string. When we got older, we’d ride our bikes everywhere. Then one day, Eddie fell out of a tree by the lake, hit his head on a rock and drowned in eight inches of water. I wasn’t with him that day because I had a bad cold and my mom made me stay in. It was the darkest day. Eddie was the best friend I ever had.

    Kids have a way of recovering, though. I got involved in sports at school and went to college on a football scholarship. My college years were incredible. I was the star quarterback and I met my future wife in Economics class. Sheila was funny, fun and real, like my sisters. We got married and had two girls (outnumbered again). Life was great. Then, one night while we were all at the movies, an electrical fire started in the basement of our house. By the time the firemen put it out there wasn’t much left. “It’s just stuff,” we told ourselves, but that darkness came over me again. It was the enemy smirking in the shadows.

    When my Dad died suddenly of cardiac arrest at sixty-four, and my Mom followed him six months later, I started to lose my sense of well-being and security. The darkness was there constantly. I was consumed by self-pity, a condition upon which my enemy thrived.

    The turning point came when Sheila and I were on a cruise. She had been diagnosed with breast cancer and suggested we take the cruise before she started chemo. The diagnosis caused me to retreat into a black hole. I cursed life, God, everything.

    One quiet night on the ship, after Sheila had gone to bed, I was on our balcony trying to dull my distress with a double bourbon. Suddenly, I heard Eddie’s voice.

    “Hey Doooofus!” he said. “Stop feeding the demon with your self-pity. Laugh at him. He hates that. Better yet,” he added, “ignore him. If people stopped giving him credit for stuff, his fame would dry up like a raisin.” Then I heard a distant, “See ya!” and he was gone.

    That was six years ago. Sheila is cancer-free and our oldest daughter is getting married next month. My enemy? Oh, he’s just another washed up has-been.

    • Kerry Charlton says:

      What a beautiful story, Angesjack. So realistic to see you write prose in this manner. A heart felt story anyone can relate to . Wonderful response to the prompt. KC

      • agnesjack says:

        Thanks, Kerry. At first I didn’t have a clue how to respond to this prompt, because I really didn’t want to write about a celebrity — they get SO much attention already. When I thought of the kid in the beginning, it just flowed after that. I’m glad it was something that people could relate to.

    • BezBawni says:

      I agree with Kerry, the story is great. There’s the whole life in there! It’s amazing how the story give so much hope and encouragement while being so sad. You captured the characters well and Eddie’s way to say his favorite phrase told the whole world about him. I also love the idea of darkness being a celebrity.

    • Observer Tim says:

      Very nicely done, Agnesjack. I really like empowering stories like this, and it definitely rings true. Sometimes the world seems like an enemy, but that usually means you’re actually carrying your nemesis around inside your skull.

      • agnesjack says:

        That is quite true, Tim. The darkness/enemy/nemesis I had in mind was the influence of Satan — the oppressive weight of woe that keeps us from God’s grace. I am not traditionally religious, but I see God’s grace as the thing that empowers us to be hopeful, forgiving and, basically, happy. We are our worst enemy in that regard sometimes.

        • Observer Tim says:

          I am traditionally religious, and I know for a fact that Satan has allies – us. The hard part is discerning what parts of our sinful nature are generated by him and what parts come from ourselves. Usually it’s a joint effort. That’s how he works.

        • Observer Tim says:

          That last was agreeing with you, by the way. I’m not sure I was clear about that. The way the reader has to draw the story into their own psyche to process it is another sign of quality writing.

          • agnesjack says:

            Yes, Tim. I understood what you meant. In St. Augustine’s “On Free Choice of the Will,” he discusses how we have these choices. Our free will is a gift from God, but how we use it is up to us. He states, “When someone loves a shadow, the eye of the soul grows weaker.” That, to me, is the temptation to go toward the darkness rather than the light. (When I say that I am not traditionally religious, I mean that I am not a churchgoer.)

            Anyway, I didn’t mean to write an essay here. Thank you for the compliment. I feel that it is important for people to relate in their own way to what I am writing. I’m always glad when it works out that way.

    • frankd1100 says:

      I wish I could fit so much truth in so small a space.

      Wonderfull story.

    • don potter says:

      Great concept and well told.

    • calicocat88 says:

      This was actually very uplifting and encouraging. We do spend a lot of time mourning are losses instead of moving on. I liked this and the way you made the “enemy” something spiritual.

      • agnesjack says:

        I’m glad you found it uplifting, calicocat (see my response to Tim, which touches on this also).

        In a strange way, this story came out of my resistance to writing about some celebrity. The MC’s refusal in the end to pay attention to the influence of the dark demon relates to my feeling that we shouldn’t pay such rapt attention to the lives and antics of celebrities.

    • seliz says:

      I loved this. The main character was relatable and likable. Your description of Eddie was great. I found myself chuckling at his use of the word doofus. I could almost hear him saying it. Really nice piece! :)

      • agnesjack says:

        Thanks, Seliz. I like writing about kids. My brother had a friend down the block who would ring our bell and when you opened the door he would fall flat on his face on the floor, look up at you and say, “just thought I’d drop in.”

        Kids are fun.

    • JRSimmang says:

      There’s nothing here, Agnes, that I couldn’t add. However, I would like to say that you created well the idea that often our nemesis isn’t someone or something we can see. Sometimes it is indeed of ourselves.

  21. Kerry Charlton says:

    WEEKEND AT ATLANTIS

    Soaring at 27,000 feet from Los Angeles in our Lear, Anya and I looked forward to our first vacation in years. I had put on a few pounds since our marriage twenty years ago but Anya had the same fabulous figure. Her face reflected a Greek goddess with chestnut hair falling well beneath her shoulders. Her hazel, green eyes defied mystery and still stopped my heart when I kissed her.

    The limo drove through Miami passing ancient, towering baynon treies lining the winding streets of Coconut Grove. Atlantis, built over a long pier, rose sixty feet above the waters of Biscayne Bay. The new resort carried the pent house, supper club and a spectacular cantilevered dance floor jutting over the bay.

    The concierge asked,

    “Your reservation sir?”

    “Bond,” I said. “James Bond.”

    “And your wife sir?”

    “Anya Amasova.”

    Tuxedoed men arrived with our luggage and escorted Anya to the penthouse, while I seceretly scanned the guest list. Richard had registered under his middle name, Dawson. Karl Stromberg’s name was missing, he obviously used a pseudonym. Anya knew nothing about this reunion. I had planned to surprise her.

    After we assisted in the ribbon-cutting, the crowd gathered at the supper club. Dancing under the stars with Anya, I whispered to her,

    “Happy anniversary darling.”

    “Oh James, I’m so happy tonight. It’s a perfect evening.”

    A tango drifted across the dance floor, we were lost in each other’s arms. My peripheral vision rested on a giant of a man, at least seven feet tall, clad in black tie with his back to me. From the familiar hunch of his shoulders, I recogined Richard Kiel. Across the dance flood, stood the evil world controller, Karl Stromberg.

    Anya had her eyes closed as the two men approached us, the dance floor having divided for them.

    “Good evening Mr. Bond,” Karl said.

    He gave Anya a courteous hug. A horrified hush fell across the crowd as Richard, better known as Jaws, lifted me over his head and trudged to the side rail of the cantilever, dangling me sixty feet over Biscayne Bay.

    “Richard, you better make this look good,” I said.

    We moved through the struggle as we had rehearsed it but I still hung in space.

    ‘This isn’t part of the plan,’ I thought. ‘My God, he’s going to drop me.’

    Anya moved through the crowd, running toward us.

    “Put James down Jaws, or I’ll kill you,” she said.

    We both stared into the business end of Anya’s Nagant revolver.

    “Anya,” I said, “stop. This isn’t real.”

    Jaws had brought me back to the dance floor, still holding me high and choking me. His face filled with terror, as Anya fired three shots into his chest, I tumbled to the floor and rose in horror. Jaws had collapsed like a giant Sequoya. Blood ran from his massive chest and puddled the dance floor.

    I tried to grab Anya’s gun but she was too quick for me. She rushed Karl and emptied her revolver into him. The evil one slid to the floor.

    “For God’s sake, Anya. This was only a stunt we planned.”

    “I didn’t know it was a prank,” she said. “Are Jaws and Karl still alive?”

    They both rose from the dance floor, fake blood still oozing from them.

    “We got you James,” they said. “Never pull a prank on a Russian spy.”

    • Susan says:

      Very entertaining, Kerry – this reminded me a bit of a film starring Michael Douglas, in which he’s caught up in some kind of sinister game and you’re never sure what’s for real. I enjoyed it very much – a great take on the prompt.

    • seliz says:

      Great descriptions. I could see it all unfolding before me perfectly. The bit with the prank at the end was great :)

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Thank you seliz. I appreciate it. This wasn’t an easy prompt to work with but I love James Bond. They’ve been going 50 years with the movies and still at it. KC

    • agnesjack says:

      It’s fun to see how everyone is handling this prompt. I thought it was a tough one.

      I don’t know why, but at the end I had this vision of James, Karl, Jaws and Anya in some nursing home somewhere, driving the staff crazy by playing these pranks to relive the glory days.

      I liked the benign post-cold war characterizations, KC.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Thank you agnesjack. The idea of the four of them tearing through a nursing home is a great idea for a future story. I’m glad you enjoyed this. KC

    • BezBawni says:

      Being Russian, I couldn’t but appreciate the last line))) The story was so much fun)) I’m starting to love this week’s prompt))

    • Observer Tim says:

      Very nice, Kerry. You definitely caught the sense of Bond, here.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Thanks Tim but your story put everyone on the floor. I’ll try to keep along side of you, but it isn’t going to easy.

        • Observer Tim says:

          It’s not a competition, Kerry, we’re building something. Everybody wins. Seeing your writing, and that of others here, makes me want to be a better writer too.

          • Kerry Charlton says:

            Tim, I couldn’t agree more with you. It’s catching a fever and a passion to write as the writer may have only dreamed about..

            This forum has been beyond any thoughts that I previously had about story, composition, flow and dialogue. I feel like I”m in company of friends that put their hand out to me to follow a path to become a good writer. While I’m at it, Thank you, everybody.

    • mikepascale says:

      I applaud your choice of direction, Kerry! I liked the imagination and use of a famous character. Even though you technically went over the word limit, it was worth it! :-)

      Best of success,
      Mike

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Thank you Mike. I appreciate your comments. And especially your good wishes. Are you posting on the prompt? I’d certainly like to read your story. It seems like everyone is ramping up on the prompt. There are some great stories here! KC

    • frankd1100 says:

      Riding along enjoying the beautifully described scenery. Turn a corner and I’m with James Bond.

      Quite a turn on the nemesis prompt…

      Most creative, Kerry.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Thank you Frank. I’m quite a fan of Ian Fleming. I first discovered him when I saw ‘From Russia With Love’ as a sneak preview. In 30 days I read every novel he wrote except one I didn’t know about at the time, ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’.

    • don potter says:

      Ian Fleming could have learned something from you. I’ve been a Bond fan for years and have become one of yours over the past several months. Well told tale.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Thanks Don. I appreciate the compliment. But I’m certainly not in a league with Fleming. He was a master story teller. I’m glad you like my stories. They don’t come easy, most of the time. This one was start, stop, rewrite, stop, rewrite. If I hit a good one once in a while, I’m very happy with it.

        You’re quite a storyteller yourself. I’m just trying to run with the pack.

    • Toni Smalley says:

      Haha, loved the twistie twist at the end! This made me smile :) I’m not a big Bond fan, I actually can’t remember watching a single Bond movie, so if I missed any cool references, that is why. But, I loved it. It was very entertaining :)

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Thank you Toni.

        Since you’re not familiar with James and when the next prompt hits the right key, I’m going to cast you in the story as a Bond girl. Get ready for the action! You’ll love it. You’ll be in the same league as Ursula Andress and Jane Seymour.

    • Very fun, Kerry. This was a great movie to pull inspiration from. You brought everyone to life with ease.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Thank you, as always Doug. I must admit I had a blast writing this one. It’s difficult to describe Coconut Grove in a few words. I grew up in Miami and the grove was my hangout in high school and college. I went back last year. Even the yacht basin looks as it did 50 years ago.

  22. Observer Tim says:

    I was as surprised as anyone when Gojo Morisato invited us all to spend a week on his private island. He said he wanted to thank us for the American hospitality we’d shown him and his family back in sixth grade. He even made a special point of inviting me, which was weird because we’d never really gotten along and I’d made a point of tormenting the little nip whenever I could.

    That was 30 years ago and he’d moved back to Japan and become a big movie star of some sort there. He was world famous in Japan, ha ha. So me and about a dozen guys took him up on his offer. I could forgive him for being a geek if he was willing to let bygones be bygones.

    From Tokyo Airport we were taken by limo to the private yacht that would get us to the island. The girls on the yacht were really nice for Japs; they look kind of like Hawaiians but smiled more. They gave us all the socky we could drink. Socky’s like Japanese whisky, only not as good as Johnnie Walker. We were all pretty hammered by the time we got to the island; everyone spent most of that day sleeping it off.

    I woke up in the late afternoon and took a look around. The island was big and mountainous and covered in forest, though not good mountains like back home. The forest wasn’t very tropical, not like in Florida, but the sun was warm and bright.

    The buildings were a bit of an eyesore, but at least they weren’t paper. Everything looked like it had been built by the army back in the 40’s. By Americans. We know how to build things that last. They were neat and clean, not at all run down, but not exactly five star, if you get my drift.

    I was the one that found the Gojo’s note.

    “My American friends. I wanted to repay you properly for my treatment in America. I will arrive at sunset. The bar is stocked and there are many fine foods for you to gorge yourselves on. Please have fun, Morisato Gojo.”

    Nobody turns down free food, even that weird Japanese stuff. We had a big-ass fish barbecue, though I woulda killed for a hamburger, and I had a good buzz going by sundown. About that time there was a bunch of small earthquakes, getting bigger. Not like California. Then Gojo showed up.

    Gojo had changed. He was like 300 feet tall and covered in green scales. He moved like a guy in an oversized rubber suit, with a huge tail and glowing scale-things running down his back. He had a roar like a cross between a train whistle and an elephant. We only really knew it was him by what he said after he stomped one of the guest houses flat.

    “Gojo is short for Gojira.”

    I didn’t even get an autograph. Stupid foreign celebrities.

  23. PeterW says:

    Writing Prompt. Tough One.

    Not many options it seems: vacation, grueling night, dinner, arch-enemy who is a celebrity (!), plus redemption of night. In fact it is way too much for 500 words of setting, character construction, plot, and resolution, nor does it seems like interesting fiction, more like celebrity worship and fantasy. But I will tell you a true story. It has a dinner, talk of a celebrity, and a small bit of disagreement. There, however, is no redemption between two people with high moral standards. Between me and a friend, in conversation, redemption for one of us would mean the lowering of the other. It is better when arguments resolve themselves in compromise, where we agree to disagree, take another sip of beer and let it go.

    Myself brought up the topic of Miley Cyrus, who is a hot-bit of news, as you may well know. I mentioned watching one of her music videos over a facsimile hamburger at McDonalds. In this video Miley swings naked from a wrecking ball with limbs always in cover of her pink, sensitive parts. Also in other shots, Miley is in white panties which show a lot of ass-cleavage, and in another shot she is crying close up. The video has around 200 million views. The song is pop, mildly catchy, but not really that interesting. I say, “I almost feel bad for her.”

    My friend, texting other friends, says, “What do you expect? She is a sexual being. This is her reproductive strategy. Most girls have to work a lot harder to be attractive.”

    I disagree with this statement on many levels. First we are both males. So I say, “Girls, don’t have to work that hard. They show up and yell ‘fuck me’ and all ten guys at the bar are like, ‘com here, I’ll buy ya a drink.’”

    My friend, knowingly, says, “Yeah, but why do you feel bad for Ms. Miley?”
    “She used to be nice.”
    “So…?”
    “So now everyone thinks she is a slut.”
    “As a mammal she needs to be reproductively satisfied.”

    Now I also have issue with my friend’s ‘reproduction+evolution’ view of humanity, so I say, “So in order to do this, she needs to show her sex off to 200 million other people. She was fine as Hannah Montana.”

    My friend still mauling over phone and nuggets, says, “Nah, the video that’s probably a human-nature-extroverted-need-for- attention- thing. I heard she was f-ing around with her dad. Nasty girl.”

    “Like I said, I feel bad for her.”

    “Cause the music industry is using her. Cause old people think she’s a no-good ho. Cause guys skip the stupid crying part, and then jerk off to the part where she swings from a giant testicle. Nah you feel, bad because really, you want dirty Miley for yourself.”

    Of course it is a little true. Who doesn’t want a beautiful girl? Who doesn’t want to bend her into an imaginary love and make love to her all night? Then domestic and marry her.

    I slap my friend across the face, and tell him be nice.

    He looks stunned, phone open. Then smiles, “You bitch.”

    I imagine a clean, chaste, naked Miley sticking out her dog-tongue and flicking him off.

    We got out to a bar. There is something beautiful about a bar. Neither of us gets laid that night. While out in Hollywood, guys with huge dicks continuously run train on Miley, while she twerks.

    (Uggggljdafldjflajfl… this is bad beyond belief… and fictional….blah for this week. Hope yall can come up with something better.)

    • JRSimmang says:

      I actually found the dialogue to be realistic and relevant. You’re right, though. This prompt certainly isn’t an easy one.

    • Observer Tim says:

      Sorry it didn’t work out, PeterW. Not every prompt inspires; last week’s pretty-much paralyzed me.

      It’s an interesting bit o’ discussion though. I’ve had talks like this with friends.

    • Susan says:

      LOL – I’m so glad I wasn’t the only one who thought this was a pig of a prompt! I admire your fighting spirit for attacking it with this spirited bit of dialogue, which was very readable.

    • seliz says:

      I agree with you completely about his prompt. I actually had a much better response written out, but before I could even fully establish the celebrity villain, I was at 800 words. Either way, Miley was a good choice for this prompt–everyone seems to be talking about her these days.

    • agnesjack says:

      This was a difficult prompt, for all the reasons you state, PeterW. I tend to avoid the celebrity world at all costs.

      You’ve written an interesting and realistic male conversation, PeterW, though unresolved.

    • frankd1100 says:

      I feel sorry for her. In part because conversations like this do take place.

      Is this a patronizing male response?

      I wonder what women think about it? I’ll bet Miley would answer, “Kiss my butt all the way to the bank…”

  24. seliz says:

    The walls were darkened and dripping with dew. I sat hunched on the cool metal bunk with my head between my hands.
    How could this happen? I was just on vacation for God’s sake!
    “Ma’am?”
    I looked up to see a male officer holding a baton before him like a cane.
    “It appears someone has posted your bail,” he said gruffly. Then looking embarrassed, he said, “Sorry for clubbing you earlier. I guess I got caught up in the moment.”
    I stared at him incredulously, but instead of answering, I hobbled my way out of the darkened cell and made my way to the front of the jail.
    The lobby was empty except for a lone man—a strange contrast to the ordinary surroundings in his pressed black tuxedo. Joseph Morgan. Part of me was still amazed to see him in the flesh—the star of The Originals—and the other part of me recoiled at the sight of him.
    “Ah, there you are love,” he said, his voice velvety smooth. “You’ll noticed I posted your bail, as sort of a peace offering. Do you accept?”
    “I was just sight seeing and you abducted me!”
    “Yes.”
    “You tied me up and threatened to kill me!”
    “Yes.”
    I stared at him in exasperation.
    “I don’t even feel safe being in the same room with you!”
    The words jarred his cool composure, “You? I’m the one who shouldn’t feel safe! First you untie yourself–”
    “You’re lousy at tying knots, buddy.”
    “Then you stab me! Who does that?” he exclaimed, lowering his tux jacket to reveal a bandaged shoulder.
    “Who abducts people!”
    “It’s called acting, love. I told you, I thought you were the extra,” he said. Then with a small smile, “It was rather insane, wasn’t it?”
    He was exuding charm from every pore. He waited with expectant eyes.
    “That’s not going to work. The police clubbed me because of you.”
    “Yes, that was rather unfortunate.”
    “I lost my purse—with my wallet in it. I can’t even afford to eat tonight!”
    He gave me a half smile and whispered, “I can fix that.”
    My mouth dropped open and my heart started racing.
    “Are you asking me out to dinner?”
    He stepped closer and stroked my cheek with the back of his hand, “I’ll do you one better.”
    “What’s that?” I asked, my voice hoarse.
    “How about I kill you for real?” He smiled viciously, his eyes smoldering.
    I stepped backwards in shock, tripping over my feet as I did.
    He grabbed my arms and steadied me. “Are you all right, love? I was just asking you if you wanted to play that extra. It appears she didn’t show.”
    “Right, the extra,” I echoed. Then flashing my first smile of the night, “Deal.”

  25. LadyPondofTardis says:

    “Ugh!” Yet again, my hair has refused to cooperate. After hours of attempting to add curl to my otherwise boring locks, I have again met defeat. Despite layers upon layers of product that promise hold beyond compare, my efforts have all fallen flat in mere moments. Instead of soft waves and gentle curls that cascade down my back in a vision of Hollywood perfection, I find myself stuck with stick straight uncooperative tresses that refuse to be anything then what they are. I glare at the photos of my so-called inspiration, women I once counted as friends but now I number them as my fiercest foes. Belle, Cinderella, Ariel, and Jasmine; all women who have given me a decidedly unrealistic vision of what my hair should be. Bugger this, I’m just gonna stick my hair up in a ponytail.

    • Observer Tim says:

      This is an interesting take on what happens in the mind of a girl who is “growing out” of the Princess phase and accepting reality.

      It’s a bit short and somewhat shy on plot.

      And ponytails are really really cute, especially with naturally straight hair.

      • LadyPondofTardis says:

        I realize it’s rather thin. It’s not one of my better works but this is all I could think of for the prompt.

        • Onoir says:

          It’s a wonderfully unique take on the prompt and, for my money, just the right length. Only thing missing is vacation. :) Good job. You might enjoy the site 100wordstory dot org. I’ve not been successful at being so succinct, but you show definite promise.

    • Susan says:

      As someone who’s never really had a good hair day in her life, I can relate to this :)

    • mikepascale says:

      I think this is subtly and succinctly brilliant! You had me questioning if it fit the prompt until the last couple lines. All extraneous fluff was excised in favor of a quick impact, perfect for today’s smart-phone-nanosecond-attention-span lifestyle. Well done!

      Besides, anyone with Tardis in their moniker automatically scores major points. Fish fingers and custard on me! ;-)

      Best,
      Mike

  26. JRSimmang says:

    CHAPTER 3: ROAD TRIP

    4:13, two hours before his alarm was scheduled to go off. Beamer was getting tired of waking up before his alarm. The Book of Dreams was starting to cause him trouble.

    For the past three weeks, he’s had a recurring dream, every night, every time. His alarm would go off. He’d get out of bed, brush his teeth, shower, put on clothes, eat breakfast, kiss his wife goodbye, and go to work. In his dream, he worked as an analog encryption specialist, not too different from his actual job. Except here, in his dream, he would take perfectly legible words and make them into the symbols he was used to reading in reality. Then, at the end of the day, he would clock out, go home, eat supper, sometimes make love to his wife, and go to sleep.

    It was normal. It was something he missed. Every day that he was awake, the world was starting to make less and less sense. He had chased his younger self into an alley. He had coffee with his dead mom. His dad called him complaining that Beamer’s brother was sinking money into “that stupid IRA” again. Beamer didn’t remember having a brother. He also thought people couldn’t disappear, but that was becoming the norm.

    He was going to take a trip today, something to clear his mind. He got out of bed, feet first and quietly so he didn’t wake his wife. He slipped on some clothes, and left.

    The sun hadn’t come up yet, and he was going to head west so he didn’t have to stare into the sun’s rising. It was nice, being up before most of the world. There were a few cars on the highway, most of which were headed into town, probably getting on to work. Beamer would try to glance through the windshields to see if he could recognize anyone, but that game got old quick. Most cars were still running their headlights.

    Sometime after 8:30, the landscape changed. Suddenly, and without warning. Beamer pulled over to the side of the road. Stretched before him was a blanket of land, simply green/brown, and sky. There was nothing ahead. He turned around and behind him was more of the same.

    “I suppose you’re wondering how you got here.” The voice startled Beamer, instantly causing his heart to race. He knew that voice. He’d heard it every single day of his adult life.

    Slowly, he turned around, already aware of who he would see. He locked eyes with himself.

    “Beamer. Beamer, Beamer, Beamer. How the hell are you?”

    Beamer just shook his head, trying to make sense of this.

    “Don’t try. It’s just going to drive you insane.”

    “How? How are you, am I, in front of me?”

    Beamer’s doppleganger leaned on his car. “You should’ve stayed in bed.”

    “I must be hallucinating.”

    “YES!” Beamer’s double jumped at this, excited, like a piece of the puzzle had just magically dropped itself into the blank space. “Yes! You are hallucinating. In fact, you’ve been hallucinating this whole, damned time!”

    Beamer again shook his head, trying to clear it. He looked to the right and saw the sky starting to whiten, the same on the other side.

    “You see, my dear me, this, THIS, is all up in that cranium of yours. I’ve been trying to tell you that for the past three weeks. You, you, are somewhat of a celebrity where you’re from.”

    Beamer looked behind him.

    “Not there, you dolt.”

    He turned to face himself again. “What are you talking about?”

    “This,” and Beamer’s double turned around, his arms out, “this is lovely, isn’t it? Just perfect? The weather is great, never too cold, never too hot, no rain, just a few clouds, slight breeze all the time…”

    Beamer’s head was starting to hurt. “I guess… I’ve never thought about it…”

    “No! You haven’t!” His other self ran up to him, grabbed him by the shoulders and shook him. “She’s dead, you fuck-up! Get that through your skull. And you had. nothing. to. do. with. it.”

    4:13.

    The red lights of the clock face were staring back at Beamer. His pillow was wet with sweat. His sheets were bunched around his legs. He was alone in his bedroom.

    To be continued…

    -JR Simmang

  27. jhowe says:

    Note: I am leaving in the morning for a mini vacation and won’t be able to comment this week. I wrote this really fast and it is not a great work of fiction. Feel free to skip it.

    The ocean current caused the kelp field to sway gently as the mother seahorse fretted near her tangled nest. Only one egg had survived the onslaught from the rogue porpoises that had wreaked havoc in the area only moments before. Most of the gentle creatures of the kelp lands had fled when the killer mammals had attacked. Some had not been so lucky.

    The mother seahorse was torn. Should she stay with her fragile, pale egg or search for her mate who had been lost in the fray. She spotted some unsavory looking bottom feeders lurking in the floating bits of seaweed and she knew she had to stay. If her mate was alive, he would return.

    After three days of guarding the nest, her mate had not returned. Her heart was heavy but her resolve to protect her sole egg hardened. Seahorses mated for life, but that mattered little any longer and she knew this egg was the last hope for the legacy of her kind. She now feared she was the last giant seahorse in existence.

    For six more days the mother seahorse stood vigil at the nest. She survived by plucking plankton from the murky waters and the occasional piece of floating tiger algae that gave her the energy she would need to protect her baby once it hatched. And hatch it did. On the twelfth day after the attack the opaque shell split and a fully formed seahorse swam out and took cover in the folds of his mother’s tail. He remained there for three more days and his mother patiently waited, growing weaker now because she fed every scrap of tiger algae she could find to the baby seahorse.

    On the sixteenth day the porpoises returned. The seahorses hid behind some rocks but were soon discovered. They had no choice but to flee the kelp lands. The lead porpoise gave chase and quickly cornered the pair at the base of a vast sand dune. The porpoise immediately attacked the mother and turned its maniacal gaze to the baby.

    Well, if this wasn’t the vacation from hell, I didn’t know what was. I had taken a scuba diving excursion off the coast of St. Croix in search of the giant seahorse, which had been spotted by members of the local dive club. Most people thought they were crackpots but I had to find out.

    The plight of the four foot tall seahorse and her baby consumed me and the unusual behavior of the porpoises compelled me to extend my vacation and spend as much time underwater as possible. Now I didn’t know what to do. The lead porpoise was in position to attack the baby seahorse and the mother was badly wounded.

    Without thinking I readied my spear gun and swam between the attacker and his victim. I pointed the gun and looked into the eyes of the porpoise. Son of a bitch. It was Flipper. What in the world had happened to him? He never acted this way on TV. I wondered if perhaps he had found some abandoned meth or something. That had to be it.

    Flipper was smart enough to know a spear gun when he saw one. He made his famous eh,eh,eh,eh sound and swam off with his gang. I laid down the gun and gathered the baby seahorse into the folds of my arms. I laid my hand on the mother’s neck and gave her the kindest look I could through my mask. I think she understood that I would take care of her offspring and she nodded and closed her eyes for the last time.

    Note: Don’t say I didn’t warn you about the quality of this story.

    • Susan says:

      Aw, what a tear-jerker, jhowe – but how could you cast Flipper as a baddie?!! Lovely comi-tragedy – I thoroughly enjoyed it.

    • seliz says:

      Aww, what a sad story :( But good job, especially for writing it really fast.

      Also, make sure to steer clear of your celebrity enemy while on vacation! :P

      • swatchcat says:

        Okay, bad this is not. I was pulled all the way through it. It was a pleasure to read and it was written well. The only thing I would suggest is to remove Flipper all together because for that split second your story lost its integrity pulling him out of left field. Just being a porpoise with no name would have sufficed. I say this because to mention a celebrity by name is not necessary for this story. One can take the prompt to another level by not being absolutely literal. In the marine world, dolphins are huge “celebrities”, by painting it as the enemy was enough and a good reader would get it. Well done, I loved it.

    • Observer Tim says:

      I’m afraid the late reveal didn’t quite work here, jhowe. I also got a major jar, though about halfway through the thought it might be Flipper did cross my mind.

      I find myself wondering how badly he took fame, given that he’s now running with a gang. He should be living the high life, with a whole pod of girlfriends… Maybe he just didn’t manage his money right.

    • BezBawni says:

      I’d never skip your stories, jhowe. And no matter how fast you write them, I still enjoy every word.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Good story jhowe. Every body is picking on Flipper. He just doesn’t know any better and it’s wasn’t his choice to be in this story in the first place. So quit messing with Flipper!

    • don potter says:

      I always thought Flipper had a dark side. Your story was sad but well told. Enjoy your vacation.

    • agnesjack says:

      For a quick write, this was inventive and kept my interest throughout, jhowe.

      p.s. How is the baby seahorse doing?

  28. peetaweet says:

    Summer Camp 3 wasn’t nominated for any Oscars, but at 12 years old I was the envy of all my friends when I landed the role of the leading girl’s best friend. I spent the summer surrounded by make-up artists, camera crews, and set props, enjoying every minute until the last week of filming, when a rumor started amongst the cast—mostly middle schoolers—that I had both male and female anatomy.

    The rumor stuck, and when I finally left Wilmington for college in Virginia it was a like new beginning. And as life took hold, I met husband and father of our two healthy girls (ha, take that rumors!). Besides the occasional stare and, “Hey, weren’t you in Summer Camp 3?” my acting career is a blip of eighties cheese ball trivia, due to the main character’s successful career. Until..

    Leaving the girls with Grandma, I joined my husband for a weekend business trip to NYC. To celebrate, we dined at Mangi, a ritzy establishment on Central Park West. We had just settled in when a rush of whispering swept through the room.

    Under the dim glow of 40 watt bulbs was the unmistakable face of Emile Chalmers, encased in a 6 man entourage and granting nods and winks to a select few. My husband lifted an eyebrow and we both laughed at the happenstance.

    After a moment the clinking and chattering resumed as the movie star took his table, his white teeth beaming and slicked black hair shining under the red chandelier.

    “Should you go say hello?” My husband laughed.

    “Yeah, I mean two stars from the same classic movie in the same restaurant? The paparazzi will be here in no time.” Little did I know.

    Our champagne arrived and we toasted to our romantic evening together. I looked up to find Emile Chalmers at our table, all grown up and famous.

    “Wow, Katie. Summer Camp 3.” Katie was my characters name, but judging by the smell of his breath he had to be quite drunk, so I was impressed.

    “Yes, how are you Emile?”

    “I’m good, in town for my newest movie, a remake of Robocop.”

    I really thought he was joking. Otherwise I would have never let the expensive champagne squirt from my nose.
    Flashes sparked from phones as he turned to my husband. In my spell of rudeness, I’d forgotten to introduce him.

    “This couldn’t be your husband, I mean, you can’t get married…with you know, your…” He looked to my lap with that pompous smirk on his face, the one he wore so many years ago when he tried to kiss me and I pushed him away.

    The Post was first to report the assault. Using a grainy picture—one that would find its way to every blog, fan site and gossip column, it captured my husband, arm extended, over the crumpled movie star. It was a still of chaos—gasps and screams exiting the opened mouths of horrified faces, a wine glass frozen mid spill, fumbled from the flailing waiter’s hands, my husband’s chair tipped on two legs, suspended in time. With so much happening in the picture, few people even noticed the other chair, where a woman sat smiling in the midst of the bedlam, her face one of complete adoration.

  29. Susan says:

    The view from the restaurant was stunning – I watched the sun set, red and gold, over the black, still waters of the ocean, as I sipped the cool, fresh Chablis and looked forward to another delicious meal. Ah – this was the life! I’d been saving up for this holiday for two years, and boy, was I determined to enjoy it. That was the plan, anyway.

    I felt it before I saw the pesky little thing – I thought I had an itch on my ankle – perhaps the first midge bite of the trip – but as I bent down to scratch myself, there it was, nibbling on my shoe – my brand new Jimmy Choo stilettos!

    “Get off!” I screamed. As I kicked it away, it flew up in the air and landed – SPLAT! – right in the middle of a bowl of Gazpacho on the next table. The portly, bejewelled lady who’d been tucking into it, dropped her spoon and let out a blood-curdling shriek. The invader, now barely recognisable, emerged from the bowl looking like an escapee from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Licking his lips, he shook himself off, splattering Gazpacho all over the still-screaming lady and her three smartly dressed companions, who now resembled victims of a mafia shoot-out. Leaping from their seats, they retreated from the table, where the architect of their woes sat nonchalantly cleaning off his whiskers, still dripping with tomato soup.

    Noticing they were looking at him, with a twitch of his ears and a cheeky grin, he made a bow. This was too much for the fat lady’s even fatter husband, who seemed to be bursting out of his ruined tuxedo.

    “Right, you little bastard,” he said, “just you wait…. I’ve got someone at home who’ll have you for BREAKFAST!” Waddling back towards the table, with an ungainly lunge he grasped for the creature with both hands, but his podgy fingers closed on thin air.

    He was no match for my arch enemy, who had jumped off the table, commando-style, and was now scuttling and sliding across the polished wooden floor, heading right back in my direction.

    Skidding to a halt in front of me, he looked up, paws on his hips.

    “’Nuff mess?” he asked?

    “WHAT are you playing at, you little shit? You’re ruining everything! This is exactly the kind of thing I come on holiday to get away from!”

    “So you want me to make myself scarce? OK – here’s the thing. Tom, I can cope with – we go back a long way. I even kinda miss him when you shove the poor klutz away in the cats’ home, like now. But the others have got to go. It’s not a level playing field any more. There’s just too many cats, lady – too many cats!”

    “OK, Jerry – you win. I’ll get rid of them. But not Sylvester – Tweetie-Pie needs someone to play with”

    “Aw, shucks – he don’t bother me much. You got yourself a deal, lady. Sayonara – bonnes vacances!”

  30. swatchcat says:

    “What is your purpose here?” The customs officer stared at me waiting for the right answer.

    “Working vacation,” I replied.

    “How long will you be here?” Question number two and, “Where will you be staying.”

    As soon as I passed through immigration at Heathrow Airport, I knew I had little time. First things first, get to the interview. I had it all planned out. Get off the plane, dash to the nearest bathroom to change into my suit and grab the train into London to drop off my bags. It was meant to go like clockwork. I pulled my suitcase into the bathroom and waited for the next stall. Several of us waited in line while a few stood at the sinks and I was next. Just as I rolled my case across the tile floor a girl at the counter spun and dove into my stall.

    “Sorry,” a smirky voice called back.

    I stood mouth open and cuss words racing through my head. I had two hours to get to my interview and five days to waste afterward. I ran my agenda through my head as I navigated toward the Express to Paddington Station. The crowds of rolling suitcases bustled the edge and I jockeyed for my position.

    The train whirled to a stop. “Mind the gap,” echoed overhead.

    I tried to make my way toward the door and a group of people and reporters hustled past me. All of a sudden my ass had connected with the concrete floor and some girl went swooshing past and into the train.

    “Sorry,” she giggled and the doors closed. They closed and I was on the wrong side of them. As I stared in disbelief Kristen Stewart faded into the distance. The voice, I had instantly connected to the girl in the bathroom. At that moment, she was my arch enemy.

    Everywhere I turned it seemed Kristen fucking Stewart was one step ahead of me during my trip. Every time I needed something her soul desire was to be there to ruin it. I know deep down it was all purely coincidence but I swore the next time I encountered her, she would get her come upends.

    I was at the Hard Rock café, drowning my sorrows because that bitch had made me loose my life’s dream of working in a museum abroad when of course, she was there. I tried to give her a wide berth but to no avail she laid waste to my already desolate path. I knew that I had to take my enemy down.

    I sat outside the café, waiting for her to appear. I listened to the defroster fan as I sat in my rented Smart car and when she came out, I ripped through a huge puddle curb side and damned near drowned the bitch. I know it doesn’t sound like much now but, I will always remember the image in my rearview mirror. The flashing press lights snapping shots of a soaked star that lost her cool for the entire world to see. The headline read: “Kristen Drenched in Bad Luck.”

  31. snuzcook says:

    (I indulged myself and went over the 500 limit–please forgive.)

    BITE ME

    It’s like this: I relish my vacations. My job is stressful, no matter what people think. A sweet job? Sure. Successful? Yeah, I’m in more demand than ever. But with popularity comes the non-stop work in order to stay on top. I have to keep hopping to stay ahead of the latest fads but maintain my traditional favorites.

    A few months ago, notes started showing up in my mailbox straight out of a movie—letters clipped out of magazines and pasted into angry messages. “You should be ashamed,” “Retire now or face the consequences,” “You’re a scourge on society.” They got more insulting and graphic: “I’ve got your tail in my sights,” “You’ll never see me coming,” “When you fall asleep you’re mine.” My therapist encouraged me to take some time off.

    There’s this place I go—a very private resort where security is really great and celebrities like me can relax. This one evening I had just had one of the best spa treatments ever: ears to tail, nails, the whole bit. I felt loose and sociable, so I went into the club.

    I saw a well-known chubby guy with a beard sitting on two stools at the bar. He gave me a wink when I sat down and ordered. He was cradling a ridiculously tall fruity drink in both hands, the long straw lost in fuzz around his mouth. In a corner I saw a vision in a diaphanous wrap, glitter clinging to her hair and eyelashes. She was standing, talking to someone in the shadows. She looked my way, and I raised my glass. She came toward me, a blinding smile preceding her in the low lighting of the bar like a Cheshire cat’s grin.

    “What are you drinking?” She asked, her voice lilting like a tiny glass wind chime.

    “Something wonderful with carrot juice and ginger. Want one?” She nodded, floating gracefully onto a seat. “Another Randy Rabbit for the lady,” I told the bartender.

    “Hmm, spicy!” she crooned.

    I was mesmerized by her. By the time I had finished my drink, she was stroking me behind the ears. I was suddenly very sleepy. I yawned, tried to cover my mouth. “I have a fascination for teeth,” she purred. “Yours are so…big.”

    Everyone says that. My prominent overbite is part of my famous persona.

    The room was getting warm. Her voice seemed to have changed its tone, deeper, resonating.
    “You look tired,” she said. “Would you like to lie down for a while? I have an empty cot in my room. Sandy won’t be back for hours.”

    I didn’t really feel like I could make it to my bungalow, so I followed her. When she opened her room, I fell into the cot near the door, barely noticing the powder she was sprinkling all around me. I sneezed once, and conked out.

    I was awakened by the scream of a maid the next morning as she came in to turn the beds. She stood pointing. “Your mouth! What happened to your mouth?”

    Groggily I fumbled with the pillows to steady myself and get up. Inexplicably I found I was clasping a fistful of coins that had been hidden under the pillow. Flinging them away, I staggered to a mirror. I barely recognized the face staring back at me. Where my front teeth had been were bloody gums.
    In the corner of the mirror, where I would be most likely to see it, was a note made up of cut out bits of magazine.

    “I told you to stop. Now you pay the consequences. Stop filling kid’s Easter Baskets with sugary candy or you’ll lose more than just your teeth!”

    “Whose room is this?” I croaked at the maid, swiveling my ears in her direction, my powder-puff tail vibrating with rage.

    “The Tooth Fairy,” she answered. “And I think her friend the Sandman was here, too.

  32. Kylero says:

    “Oh. My. God,” I managed to say before my jaw locked open, gawking at the most majestic man I’d ever seen. He was dressed in a black tuxedo, which he must have hated wearing, because I’d never seen him in anything but casual suits and blood stained shirts.
    “What?”
    “I can’t believe it’s him.”
    “Who?” asked my date for the evening, Trinet, or Trinity, or… whatever. It didn’t matter. Not now. Well, it didn’t really matter to me before, but now, with a hero present, how could it?
    “What do you mean ‘who’? It’s John!”
    “Who?”
    “John McLane, my idol! The entire reason why I became a cop. I can’t believe he came to the True Blue Gala.”
    My date sighed. “You mean, Bruce Willis?”
    “No, idiot. John McLane. You know, works for the NYPD. Saved LA from a German terrorist. Then New York from his brother, not to mention saving Wall Street and an entire elementary school. How do you not know him?”
    “Uh, because he’s fictitious,” she said with an attitude.
    “God, open your eyes. How can you even say that? He’s right there!”
    “No I mean -”
    “Wait,” I said, cutting her off, pushing out my seat and hustling over to him. “John!”
    “Oh, uh, hi,” he said, under appreciating my excitement.
    “John. Hi,” putting out my hand, shaking his. “Name’s Chuck Manly, but you can call me Chuck. I’m, like, your biggest fan,” I said with eyes wide open, staring. Practically dissecting every wrinkle in his aging face.
    “Well,” he said, shrugging backwards, “thanks.”
    “No, thank you. You’re practically the reason why I became a cop, and by practically I mean completely!”
    “Oh well, I’m glad I could help you.”
    “Help me? John, you’ve helped so many more people than just me! I mean, where would Zeus be without you? Al Powell? Let alone Holly. Oh my God, Holly! Is she here?”
    “Who?”
    “I’m sorry, Mr. Willis,” said Trinity, walking over to the conversation, uninvited, and looping her arm around mine. “We were just getting back to our seats,” she said, again uninvited, pulling my arm to follow her.
    “What are you doing? It’s John McLane!”
    “He’s NOT John McLane!”
    “What?” I said in shock and despair.
    “He’s Bruce Willis. Die Hard was just a f***ing movie, you idiot.”
    Worlds colliding couldn’t create more destruction than the steamrolling of lies her whorish mouth uttered.
    “How can you say that?”
    “Actually, she’s right. John McLane was just a role I played, albeit one I deserved an Oscar for. Damn liberals.”
    “But, John, or Bruce, whatever, all those people you saved and — and Zeus!” I said, grasping for a chair’s backrest to stabilize what I’m almost positive is going be me fainting.
    “All paid actors,” Trinet said, killing my dreams while simultaneously making me rethink my entire life.
    “Well, great. Then they’re just like you,” I said, or possibly yelled.
    “Well, I never!”
    “Don’t worry, sweetheart,” whatever his name is said, grabbing her waist and pulling her in close. “Why don’t you help me find my table.”
    “Oh, I’d love too,” she said wrapping her arm around his, before they strolled away.
    “Well that’s just perfect. Thanks a lot Bruce. First you ruin my life, then you steal my date. Just perfect.”

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