Flash Fiction

Week #11

Participate in our Flash Fiction weekly challenge! The rules are simple:

  1. Tell a story in 250 words or less.
  2. Must use the Storymatic Prompt provided in the Discord Flash-Fiction channel every Monday.
  3. Don’t kill your main character.
  4. Main character must have gone through some kind of change by the end of the story.

Want to Participate? Join Now:

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Okeru

“Jerk,” I mumbled under my breath as my manager walked away. This new manager gave me the creeps with his comb-over and suspenders. I reached into my pocket and pet my rabbit’s foot and took the mop and headed to the bathrooms, sticking my earbuds in as I go.

Leaning into the door, I pulled the too-small latex gloves on before I touched anything. I held my gag reflex as the smell hit me in the face. Meow. The bathroom was a mess, water and toilet paper everywhere. I really hate customers. I open the stall. Meow.

There was a box on the floor in front of the toilet and inside the toilet were kittens. I rushed forward and began pulling them out and sticking them in the box. One had gotten stuck in the drain. It came out and was fine.

Taking the kittens I took them to the back room.

“What are those?” My manager said.

“Found them in the bathroom.”

He glanced at them, “get rid of them.”

“No.”

He gave me a hard look, turned and left without saying anything else.

Turning back to the kittens. “It’s ok,” I said, “we won’t be lonely anymore.”

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AccidentalOrigin

http://envsci.uprrp.edu/?essay-writers-that-write-movie-reviews-for-sociological-issues Author's Note: This is a drabble of exactly 100 words. No more, no less.

Sam locked up the back door seven times just to be safe. A shape darted past him, knocking over a garbage can. Sam jumped at the noise.

Don’t get mugged. Don’t get mugged. He tried to see what was back behind the dumpster. Another shape darted underneath a pile of folded cardboard.

Sam slowly moved the trash. Underneath, was a cardboard box. Inside sat three black kittens. Sam stifled his urge to turn tail and run. May a black cat never cross your path.

But they were thin and shivering in the cold. Sam sighed and picked up the box.

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http://flyhighaviation.org/?q=business-plan-template-hsbc ArthurCole

Beaming headlights lit the pet cemetery as Daryl turned into the long drive, pulling up to the gate.

“It’s almost five am,” he thought. “The sun will be coming up soon.”

Daryl exited his car and popped the trunk; pulled out a dark object and snuck to the entrance. He snipped the chain and pulled the gate open with a creek. He returned to his Thunderbird and drove inside.

Daryl shut the engine off, pulled a shovel from the trunk and walked along the headstones.

“Dog,” he read. “Hamster. Bird.” He stopped. “He we are,”

Daryl dug until he hit something solid, then pulled out a small pine box.

“Bandit, you will be the perfect addition to my taxidermy collection,” opening the lid. Inside was a lifeless raccoon. Daryl grabbed the marsupial and tossed it in a bag. There was a book inside. “a diary,” he noted.

The words on the front read “To Bandit, my best friend!” Daryl flipped the pages. Love notes and drawings of her raccoon.

Daryl placed the diary back in the box then placed the raccoon on top. He set the box back in the hole and drove off.

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research papers on youth gangs E.L. Drayton

The chimes over the front door rang out, signaling a customer had just entered my shop.

“I’ll be with you in a moment,” I shouted through a veil of hanging beads, more decoration than sound barrier. I hated their noisy presence, but the quiet work of a taxidermist called for it.

“How can I help you?” I asked, stepping through the beads into an empty shop. “Hello?” Not a living soul could be heard amongst the menagerie of wildlife. On the counter I discovered a piece of paper which read, ‘cemetery, 5am.’

At the cemetery, propped up against a freshly marked grave, a journal shimmered in the morning sun. There was no mistaking I was meant to find it. A gift from my twin sister.

The blank pages of this mysterious journal called out to me for more than a week after I brought it home. When I finally used it, I couldn’t stop. I filled more than a dozen pages in one sitting with animal illustrations.

The next morning I woke to tattoos covering my arms and legs. My creations from the journal forever immortalized on my skin.

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click here Bruedorruk

Over the grave, he stood, smoking in the darkness. His biker jacket hung over his shoulder, revealing tattooed arms. The letters on his left forearm were particularly important. They let him represent his ‘family’. But he didn’t consider that so important anymore.

He lifted the cheap cigar to his lips. In… and out. He didn’t smoke. That was his father’s bad habit. But it comforted him in hard times.

He took out his flask and poured scotch onto the earth before taking some himself. Drinking was his father’s other bad habit.

“You should’ve taught me better.” He told the gravestone. “Then I wouldn’t’ve… done this!” He motioned sharply at it, taking another swig. “I was tryin’ to do the right thing. To protect us.”

He looked longingly at his tattoo. “I don’t even know what us means anymore.”

He sighed and flicked away the cigar-butt, looking at the grave. Stoney and silent, just like when he was alive. The thought made him smile.

“I’m sorry.” He said, remorsefully. “I’ll fix this. Promise.”

Sighing, he poured the alcohol along his tattoo and pulled out his lighter. “Fuck ‘em, right?” He mumbled, taking the lighter to his forearm and cleansing his skin.

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link GhettoTorture

“I think you’re my best customer,” said my tattoo artist wiping off the last bit of ink on my arm. “I think so too! Thanks again, Chip, turned out great.”

As I was leaving, a stranger’s book fell out of their bag as they were headed out the door. I tried to yell after them to stop but they didn’t hear me. I jogged over and picked up the old red leather book and ran outside but didn’t see anybody.

I looked back at it and curiosity got the best of me. Opening the front cover it said ‘Taylor Made Taxidermy’, so that’s where I went to return this book. I forgot it was Sunday as I stared at my reflection of the glass door with a closed sign looking at me. On the ground was another red diary and I picked it up. It read, ‘Heroes of the Past Cemetery’, so that’s where I went.

The woman at the front desk told me about ‘Ol Red and I went to his grave. Propped up against his tombstone was another red diary. I stared at it, then bent down to pick it up.

It’s pages were blank.

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Accidental Origin (Week#02)

Author's Note: This is a drabble of exactly 100 words. No more, no less.

Herbert felt around inside the casket. His lantern had died twenty minutes ago. He couldn’t find that damn tattooed leg.

His hand closed on something soft and vaguely leg shaped. He pulled, but it didn’t budge.

He strained harder. Herbert heard splintering wood as he fell on his ass.

His first thought was, “Did I snap the bones?” then “What the hell is on my chest?” Rectangular in shape, Herbert felt the cover open as he pushed the object off him.

A distant light danced toward him. Herbert panicked. He took the strange book with him as he ran off.

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http://seasaltair.com/viagra-100mg-pfizer-wirkung/ Arthur Cole

It’s dark; cold. I can’t feel my body. Not even my chest heaving as it takes in oxygen. I’m certain I’m dead, but I can’t remember anything.

There! I was convinced I heard something–muffled and distant–though nothing distinct. My body awoke with a sort of hunger I had never felt before. My arms and legs thrashed about, but slammed against walls on all sides.

I heard a groan from my throat, muddy and grizzled, as if my vocal cords had a mind of its own. Lust for… something burned within me. What is this feeling? This desire?

Another sound. Much closer this time.

Why can’t I get free?

Just beyond the darkness, a knock. Bright light snuck in from the crack.

The door opened and the darkness fled. Before me stood a man in a thick white suit. I recognized the face, but couldn’t bring his identity to the forefront of my mind.

“Jensen?” He asked, face contorted.

The compulsion within me took over and I remembered everything clearly. I am dead, overtaken by the undead themselves.

I lunged at my former comrade. He fought me off, but alas, my will to feed was stronger than he.

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Write My Essay E.L. Drayton

“They’ve found me,” he whispered as he heard shuffling footsteps in the distance. “Trace, are your systems functioning yet? I could really use you right now.”

The ships supercomputer whirred to life, but he could tell by her slow speech she was not yet operational. On this planet, believed to be inhabited by unidentified beings, he was alone.

Suddenly, the doors hissed open, but he found his movement slow and labored.

“Jesus Christ, what happened in here?” He could hear a voice ask, but his vision was blurred. “Trace. Report.”

“Transformation complete.”

“Yes, I see that, but what did you transform him into?”

“Protocol Z.”

The Generals eyes widened as he backed out of the room and sealed the doors immediately.

“Lieutenant, shut down Trace and call the EVAC Team to dispose of what’s in there.”

“Was it not a success?”

“If you call turning our best Astronaut into a Zombie a success?” the General answered, running his fingers through his silver hair. “Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ,” he muttered to himself as he walked away.

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self concept essay Svarmani

The calendar marked the fifth day since Derrick went missing. It wasn’t like him to not call or text someone.

The search party which had numbered nearly a hundred had dwindled down to only ten. The entire town had pretty much given up hope of ever finding him.

Night fell and it was too late to be looking so the townfolks had all gone home until morning.

A shambling zombie that resembled the missing man limped from the forest. Moonlight dripped over him as she stalked through the night.

When night neared it’s end, he retreated into the wooden lot once more. He was nearly back into the forest when something caught his gaze and suddenly he knew who he had been and something remarkable happened. The zombie began to shed tears.

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source site ArthurCole

"Ah, you there!" Called the carnie, finger erect toward the young boy.

"Me?" He asked nervously.

"Yes, you. Step right up to this here Mirror Maze and lose yourself in wonder and mystery. I promise you will not regret this!"

"But I don't have any more tickets," replied the boy.

"Never you mind. Step on up."

"But I have to meet my parents outside in a couple of minutes."

"Well you're in luck!" The carnie said with a sly grin. "This here maze only takes but a minute."

"Em, I guess so." He inched his way to the maze's opening. Inside were dozens of mirrors and windows, but it was hard to tell which was which. He stepped inside and, feeling with his hands, maneuvered his way through. Finally, he reached an area surrounded by mirrors. He felt around, but did not feel any way out

Suddenly there was another boy with him. "How do we get out?" He asked in a panic. He started when he noticed the boy was blind.

"Out?" Replied the other. "I've been stuck here for months. There is no way out."

The Carnie appeared behind the boy. "He's right you know."

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http://www.suannmotorandpump.com.au/dissertation-office-university-of-chicago/ dissertation office university of chicago Animite

Tap, tap. The blind man's cane hit the ground in rhythmic beats on the grounds of the carnival, deserted and shrouded in darkness. His nostrils filled with decaying odors of deep-fried dough, popcorn, and caramel nougat. He identified the Tilt-o-whirl and roller coaster by the scent of machine oil, ozone, and the faint pungency of human sweat. His cane tapped about the wood and brass of the merry-go-round.
 
He pushed past these obstacles toward the thing he sought. Brushing crushed soda cans aside, he reached that destination. He pressed his hand against a surface, flat and cold to the touch. A mirror. Turning his ear to the glass, he listened a long while. And he knew he was in the right spot. A sound-proofed prison about to be broken.
 
The blind man backed up and struck the glass with his foot. Each time, he heard the fractures. Each time a little more undone. At last the reinforced material shattered before him.
 
He heard the whimpers of a boy in tears.
 
"You're going to be fine," the blind man said, kneeling down.
 
"Who―who are you?" the boy said through choked sobs.
 
"Call me Mathew," the blind man said. 

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pre algebra help E.L. Drayton

"Step right up if you dare, meet the man we all fear! He'll tell you all you need to know. He's blind, but he can see your soul," the carnival worker exclaims to those hurrying by.

All except a young boy, standing on the other side, holding a large lollipop, with a skeptical look on his face, even bothers to pay attention.

"You! Yeah, you," the carnival worker shouts, pointing to the boy. "Come here. How would you like to know your future, son?" 

The boy grins up at him, baring a gap where two front teeth should be.

"How much ya got? Reflection won't see you unless you give him something."

The boy shrugs, handing over one shiny quarter. The carnival worker raises his eyebrows, then with a wink pockets the boy’s offering, as he pulls back the curtain just enough for him to enter.

The room is dark with a table in the center, surrounded by mirrors and a man sitting there, wearing a blindfold. The boy walks up to the table and waits, till the man pulls away the blindfold, revealing completely white eyes.

“Murderer. Murderer!” he shouts. In the mirrors, he sees a grown man grinning from ear to ear, holding a butcher knife dripping with blood, in place of the boy’s lollipop.

“Can you tell me where my mommy is?”

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enter site anxiouslyantic

The carnie watched the teenager with interest. She was at the carnival alone, spoke to no one... she was perfect. "Want to play? There's better games in the back," he said.

The girl shrugged and followed him behind the duck shooting game, into a small tent. It was empty, except for a large grandfather clock. It ticked, the sound getting louder with each swing. The pendulum was a clear mirror.

"Isn't that something? Over a hundred years old," the carnie said.

"You said there'd be games here." She seemed to be looking at the clock, although her eyes were hidden by sunglasses.

"I did, didn't I?"

"Do you know anything about the disappearing teenagers?"

The carnie felt a chill run down his spine. "No."

"Did you take them here? Hypnotize them into working for you?"

"No!" The carnie looked back and forth between the girl and the clock. Why wasn't it working? Just seeing it should stop her from thinking clearly.

The girl smiled, then, wickedly. As if she knew what he was thinking, she removed her sunglasses, revealing blind eyes. "Want to play?"

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http://glidecoaching.com/?grant-proposal-writer grant proposal writer Kamary

“If you said you were lost, you’d feel better.”

The worker wished she was the one saying that to the blind child, but this was not the case. Instead, this little brat was constantly needling her about it. Still, she persisted. The worker reached out and touched a nearby mirror, looking for the proper path. She’d never been good at getting though the Hall of Mirrors.

“At least one of us should know what they’re doing,” she responded. This seemed the set the kid off, who proceeded to pull her in a different direction.

“It’s a good thing I’m not lost.” The worker complied with the child’s pull, following them through the Hall of Mirrors. “Honestly, why would they pick the most easily lost worker to check this attraction…”

“I’m sorry we’re not the most rational when we’re dealing with a missing kid. Weren’t you supposed to be lost in here too or something?"

The child took no time reaching the exit. Upon doing so, they released her hand. “There’s a difference between being lost and not wanting to be found.”

As the child disappeared back into the Hall of Mirrors, the worker noticed how they walked with a limp.

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blank Okeru

“Melophobia.”

I lift my head to look up at her. I knew all along what she was talking about but I just didn’t want to believe it was true, “figures.”

She got up and walked around the large oak desk to the large mirrored liquor cabinet on the side of her floor-to-ceiling windowed office.

“Care for some,” she lifted a decanter full of some expensive scotch I assumed. Otherwise what was my $300 a week bill paying for? I just shook my head in answer.

“I do have a solution though,” she said as she sat down at her desk and took a sip.

“And what might that be?”

I didn’t have any hopes that anything she said at this point would make any difference in my life. Music has not treated me well. I can’t stand the sound of any type of beat or melody. It all gets my heart racing and my stress level sky rockets. I have managed this far in life without trying to overcome it, why start now? Ear plugs go everywhere with me.

“We are going to get you over your phobia of music,” she said.

“You can’t just cure a phobia,” I remarked at her absurdly.

“I didn’t say cure,” she took another sip, “we are going to get you accustomed to music.”

“How?”

“We,” she smiled, “are going to EDC in Las Vegas in 6 months' time.”

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next E.L. Drayton

My case was a unique one. They’d been looking for me for more than five months. I ran for as long as I could, but I knew my expiration date was coming up, and saw no use in running any longer.

I was caught by a rookie but his superior wasn’t about to let this opportunity pass him by. My exploits were notorious.

“So, we finally caught you,” he gloated. I smelled him down the hall and knew what was coming. I was ready. “Are you ready to confess now?”

“Confess to what?” I asked him. I could play this cat and mouse game all night if he wanted.

“You’re sweating like a pig!” He tossed a thick folder down in front of me and, as if mounting a horse, sat down, his arms folded. “You reek of guilt. It’s only a matter of time before you confess.”

“If only you had time,” I said, giving him a sly grin. He knew something wasn’t right. He flipped through my folder then stopped, his eyes bulged. He saw it. I let out a loud menacing laugh. “Sucks, doesn’t it?”

“Not really. I’ve gotten confessions from lesser scum than you in less time.”

“Really? Less than,” I looked at my wrist watch, the color started to drain from my arm, “five minutes?”

He searched frantically through the file, cursing when he realized his mistake as he slumped down in his chair and watched the life drain from my body.

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http://excellentpixel.com/3a268/hareov.php?sj=average-stock-market-return-calculator Jerenda

I shouldn’t be afraid of heights anymore.

I try taking another deep breath, but all that does is bring the salty air closer to me, reminding me of what I’m about to do. Autumn said this was safe, she does it all the time, I should stop being a baby and just go with her, and besides, wasn’t this my idea? Now here I am standing on the edge of a cliff wondering if she’ll notice if I run and hide in my car.

What am I afraid of, dying? I’m already doing that. At least this way I would die in the open air. Not in a sterile hospital bed, watching my hair fall out as they pump me full of chemicals to kill my cells before they kill my other cells.

On the cliff next to mine, a bronzed teenager sprints fifty feet and flings himself off. “Yahoo!” He hits the water with a splash, drenching his friends. To be young again, to not have to wake up every morning wondering if today is going to be the day my body finally gives out on me. To celebrate what is, instead of fearing what might be.

Autumn waves at me from the ocean. Her smile flashes in the sunlight.

I take a deep breath, and jump. "Yahoo!

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page AccidentalOrigin/CozmicZord

Author's Note: This is a drabble of exactly 100 words. No more, no less.

He pushed the lamp closer and I screamed. My wrists caught on the handcuffs as I tried to get away from that terrible piece of metal.

"Your appointment with the the chair is coming up, Hawkins," he said, "Anything you want to tell me?"

"No, sir!" I replied.

"You were convicted, Hawkins," he slid the light closer with one finger, "You know what you did."

"I didn't do anything! I swear! I swear!" I tried to put as much distance between me and it as I could.

Lamps were not something you wanted to be around. People died from lamps.

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ArthurCole

Two men walked into the room, sunglasses covering their eyes. It was like something out of that Hitchcock film I saw last month. I'll bet I could even guess what they were about to say first.

"Mr. Darbey, I can guarantee that if you cooperate with our department, then I can offer you a deal." He leaned forward, placing his palms to the cold stainless steel table.

Leave nothing to the imagination.

"What makes you think I would be interested in such a deal?" I asked casually.

"Mr. Darbey," he said through grit teeth. "I don't think now is the time for you to be sassing off! We are offering you a lighter sentence to merely tell us why you killed your wife!"

I can't wait to see the look on their faces. "I'm going to need a more persuasive argument than that." I folded my hands neatly on the table. The other detective shoved the first aside and slammed him fist to the table.

"You're going to tell us why you killed her, dammit! Or else... I'll..." Veins bulged from his forehead.

"Alright, alright," I said dismissively and shrugged my shoulders. "All you had to do was ask, that's all. It's simple really. I was diagnosed with a fatal tumor. Only six months to live they say. Now do you really think I ought to live my last six months with the very bane of my existence?" I paused to examine their stunned faces.

Priceless!

"I should think not!"

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Svarmani

I guess it all started about a year ago.  I had been suffering through what I had thought were migraines.  A little headache wasn't going to kill me!  Well that's what I thought.  After a month of just horrendously painful headaches I finally went to see what was wrong.

Hospitals had never been my thing.  Those places are so sterile and cold that I just tried to avoid them when I could.  I was ushered into an exam room to wait for a nurse who would take my temp and other vitals.  The doctor came in some time later.  I had falled asleep waiting and it was only his voice that jarred me from my slumber.  He asked all the battery of tests one would expect to be asked before telling me that he knew what was wrong.

During a semi recent nose job, some of the cotton packing had not been removed and because of that, a parasite had invaded my body and was wreaking havok on my body.  I had ofcourse an option.  I could go back under the knife and hope they could find it and remove it or let it slowly kill me.  The only issue was there was no guarantee that the surgery would not result in death as well.

In the short time I have left, I have but one mission.  I need to make ammends to someone I hurt very badly, long ago.

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All 4 Prompts

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Okeru

I reach down and scratch the scar that ran the length of my leg. It was mostly healed now, hence all the scratching that I do. I pull out my phone to check the time, 7:53. Only 7 minutes to go. My nerves were starting to get to me. I couldn’t believe I let my buddy talk me into this. I have never been more nervous in my life. I guess I should make my way in now, considering it will take me that long to get into the theater.

Thump, the sound of my good foot taking a step. Tick, the sound of my cane on the floor. I drag my other foot forward, leaving the foot to scrape along the floor. Pain shot up my leg, anytime I put weight on it. My

breathing was labored by the time I reached the doors but I made it. Every little victory counts.

I pulled the door open and made my way in. My concentration wavered as I entered and the door slammed behind me. Empty, the entire theater was empty. No stage hands, not even an orchestra. Was it the wrong night? No, couldn’t be. The door pulled open from behind me, then a tap on my shoulder.

It was the woman I was here to meet, “hello,” I said. She tapped her ear. I signed hello. She smiled and started signing back. We talked, or signed rather for the rest of the night. I was happy finally.

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ArthurCole

Carrigan casually entered the lobby of the theater, hands deep in his pockets. He pulled one out, phone in hand, and read his instructions.

Reading the signs overhead, he walked an imbalanced gait down the left corridor toward theater 4 and opened the door. Muffled sound made its way to his ears. Once he rounded the corner where dozens sat watching the film, he scanned the rows of seats.

The poor rhythm of his footsteps reminded him of that awful night. His face would never look the same again, either.

When he found what he was looking for, he followed the lighted stairs to an empty seat. There were subtitles at the bottom of the screen, he noted.

He looked over his target -- the slicked-back hair and thick padded suit -- in the seat before him. Carrigan fingered the revolver in his coat. Something caught his attention when his target laughed. He was wearing an ear-piece.

The target turned and bent over to the side. Carrigan hasn't noticed it before, but there was a little girl, no more than seven, in the next seat. She was moving her hands wildly.

She wore a hearing aid as well.

They were communicating through sign and heaving in hushed laughter. I looked at the little girl's smiling face.

It would, he knew, be the last smile she'd show upon her face for years to come. I'm sorry, he mouthed.

Carrigan pulled the revolver, placed it against his target's greased hair... And fired.

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dlavine

When I was a teenager, I cut class to see movies. One day I ditched History class with this beautiful brunette. Hair down to her ass, pale skin dotted with freckles, and eyes greener than shamrocks. She wore her eyeliner thick and her lips were full and stained red. She was a total freak.

We bought tickets to a film that had been out for a couple of weeks and took our seats at the top row. Empty like usual, at least until the previews started. We started making out when the lights went dim. She gave me a smirk as she unzipped my jeans and slid her hand inside. I was in heaven, so I didn’t even hear the footsteps.

When I opened my eyes again I saw this old guy standing in the corner watching the screen. He must’ve walked in while I was distracted. You’d think having a beautiful girl going to town on you would sway you from noticing this shit, but I couldn’t stop staring. The previews lit up the room and gave me a look at his face.

He was covered in scars. A tan trench coat covered most of his body, but I could see white lines running along his balding head and cheeks. He stood there, aloof to the exhibitionism taking place not twenty feet away. There was something strange and unsettling about him, but I couldn’t pin what…

Then he turned his head and stared me dead in the eyes.

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knolinda

She always wondered what she sounded like. High and delicate like a girl or low and husky like a vamp.She had lost her hearing at 12 years of age which the doctors described as idiopathic (cause unknown) though they didn’t entirely rule out something toxic or neoplastic. The fact was they didn’t know and couldn’t help though they would’ve kept trying if allowed to.

Thirty-two years old and a woman now, Sharon Goodwill accepted her deafness as she accepted the scar on her left cheek which she sustained while fighting Shirley Ire who had nails like a feral cat’s and who had provoked her with an attempt to tape a sign onto her back that read deaf and dumb. The scar wasn’t that bad but on rainy days she felt it inflame and emboss her left cheek. Mark didn’t mind the scar, however, even on rainy days. They had met through an Internet dating site, and had been going steady for nearly a year now.

For their one year anniversary, Mark had a treat, a private screening of the digital version of Gone With The Wind at the movie theater where Mark worked as a projectionist. It had cost a fortune to arrange, but it was worth it even if Mark had to attend to the reels himself. Unerringly Sharon turned whenever Mark came to join her, compelling him to ask, “How, how do you do that?” “Love,” Sharon said in a quavering voice resembling a cardinal.

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E.L. Drayton

A bead of sweat danced across the scar on his face. The ghost light on stage provided just enough light to read the note he clutched:

“Theater. 3pm.”

He never asked questions or knew who his employer was. He found his work much more fulfilling this way. If the amount was paid in full what did he care about the life he was charged to take and the reasons why?

He heard a door open and his body stiffened with anticipation. Waiting for the perfect moment to attack was his favorite part. Footsteps in the distance told him he was about to kill a woman. There was no mistaking those high heeled shoes.

He could tell she was looking around for whoever lured her to this secret death trap. A smile crept across his face as he began to sidestep the instruments towards where he knew she was headed. His plan was to kill her before she reached the bottom step. Simple enough. One quick slit of the throat from behind should do the trick.

Then it happened! What every hitman dreads, he knocked something over! The sound reverberated throughout the entire theater. He knew this kill would now be a struggle, but she didn’t stop, or run, or even scream out at the sound. Instead, she kept on descending the stairs, as if she heard nothing.

What luck, he thought, as he leapt from the orchestra section, pulled her down, and slit her throat, all in one quick and steady motion.

She didn’t make a sound.

“All in a good day’s work,” he said to himself.

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curtinparloe

They always assumed Billy would follow in his father’s footsteps; it was, after all, the family business. Billy reached up and tugged his earlobe, a habit of his when he let his mind drift too far into the past. It could be worse, he thought. He had survived, after all, even if he had lost his hearing. And he could still feel the vibrations, so he knew whether the projection was working.

Not that it mattered, there was no one watching tonight. The Lion King passed unseen. Simba, Scar, Nala, all repeating their well-trodden roles. Billy trotted down to the empty theatre and gazed up at the screen. He supposed is had saved him, this old place. This old film, too. Mufasa was caught in the stampede. He felt a jolt. A rumble. Not wildebeest, but something more immediate. The image distorted. Scar proclaimed himself King and, suddenly, leapt towards Billy at great speed. He stumbled back, fell, as the whole screen and scaffold tumbled towards him. He yelled, making no sound, as a cacophony of movement overwhelmed him. And then, blackness.

Blackness, and dust. Billy opened his eyes. He was pinned beneath the scaffold, but there was only a light throb of pain. He wiggled a toe, felt it move. Somewhere behind him, there was a flashlight cutting through the darkness. The white disc played across the wreckage before finding him. Behind the beam, a silhouette. And words came. “Can you hear me?”

“Yes. I can,” said Billy.

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Jerenda

Tap, tap, tap. Shepherd ran his cane along the wooden step. The next step up should be around… there. He tapped out its height before stepping up. His soft grunt of exertion echoed in the empty amphitheater.

The darkness around him was nearly complete. But some distance away, like fireworks in the night, red and gold ribbons exploded through the darkness, slowly coming closer.

As Shepherd continued upward, he heard something new. Footsteps on grass, growing louder. Panting, and then the louder ringing of feet against wood. Shep rested on his cane and looked in toward the footsteps. “Pardon me. Is there trouble?”

Silence. Perhaps the man was disturbed by his scars? Many were, but it had been necessary. Now, he knew that what he saw wasn’t real. The man came closer and pressed Shep’s hand to his ear, then shook his head so that Shep could feel the motion.

Oh. The man was deaf. He pulled on Shep’s hand, trying to lead him back down the steps. No, Shep had just spent half an hour climbing up. The man uttered an indistinct cry, tugging more urgently. The ribbons of light were growing closer, now taking the distinct shape of a crocodile.

Shep disentangled his hand from the man’s, gently pushing the man down the steps. He turned to face the oncoming crocodile.

Then Shepherd reached for his own magic and sent his own ribbons spiraling towards the young shapeshifter. <Child,> he sent. <What do you think you’re doing?>

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Exclude ONE Prompt

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Okeru

He couldn’t think of a time that he was in a theater that was completely empty, but he wasn’t going to complain. He could lip read the movie if he wanted, but he used this time to think. No other time did he feel like he could just ignore everything and just feel the sound.

    This was also the time he planned. He had planned all 6 of his murders from this same seat for the past 3 years. He was surprised that nobody had noticed the pattern. The murders always happened the night of the movie and he tried to incorporate part of the movie into the scene.

    There was a slight tick to his left and he felt the theater door close. Oh well his singularity was over and he looked towards the entrance but didn’t see anyone. He shrugged and laid his head back and looked up. The lack of vibrations became apparent and he glanced at the screen, the movie was still playing but maybe the turned the sound off for some reason.

    Another tick on his left and that’s when he heard it, footsteps. He heard footsteps. He spun around but no one was there. He panicked and looked every which way, knocking his drink out of the holder. It hit the ground and plashed everywhere, but there was no sound. He stared at the drink dumbfounded.

    “Your turn,” a voice said behind him and then the world went black.

Prompt Excluded: Large scar

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ArthurCole

Karina Welch hesitantly entered the double doors into the theater. It was much smaller than she remembered. Of course, looking out over a darkened audience through blinding stage lights wasn't the best vantage point, but it was where she preferred to be. It was where she was born to be. Fate had an alternative path for Karina, however.

She walked down the aisle one step at a time toward the dim stage ahead. Her heart fluttered within her chest with every step. She didn't have the heart to go there since, well...

Once she reached the stage, she caressed the splintered wood before her. It felt just as she remembered. Memories flooded her thoughts like the Amazon. Such mirth and merriment. It almost felt as if she were reliving those days all over again. A smile emerged upon her wrinkled face, unaided.

Forty six years it must have been. Forty six years since the accident that left her deaf and immobile for years. Her career ended that day. Now, seventy eight, she was compelled to return to what brought such bliss for the first twenty two years of her life. She did not know why, but she knew she must.

Karina's head became light, and her body began to tremble. She sat down on a chair on stage. Her vision began to fade to white. She realized that this was it.

She heard faint footsteps. With her last breath, she muttered, "father, into your hands, I commit my spirit."

Prompt excluded: "large scar"

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dlavine

This place has been closed for decades. Hidden down a stretch of road that has been reclaimed by nature, sawed off from the rest of civilization. Now it serves as shelter to vagrants and vandals. Torn plastic sheeting covers rows of seats drowning in dust. The paint is peeling away from itself, chipping from the walls like scabs peeling away from skin. It seems I’m the only person that hasn’t forgotten the glory of this once great theatre.

I never understood why my father brought me here. A deaf boy at a theatre seems about as useless as a mute boy singing an opera; they both require something the other lacks, either a sense of sound or a voice. I suppose I have neither. I may not understand why he brought me, but I appreciated it. I lacked a sense of sound, though not of sight. I remember what this house used to look like: grand white halls trimmed in gold and crimson, and paintings on the ceiling more beautiful than anything Michelangelo could envision. It was a grand place…a beautiful place.

There ain’t nothing like that around here these days. So even though it’s closed, I still sneak in and pretend I’m at one of the shows I used to come see. No one ever bothers me. The only footsteps here are my own and the ghosts of those who used to run this place. I hope one day I’ll join them. I hope they know how grateful I am.

Prompt excluded: “Large scar”

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anxiouslyAntic

Phoenix sat alone in the theater. They were always alone in the theater. They couldn't remember the last time there had been someone watching a movie with them. 10 years ago? 20? Maybe they were wrong. Maybe it never happened. They weren't sure how they got there. They must be dead. In the movies, ghosts haunted homes for centuries. Why not a movie theater?

Before movies, the theater had shown plays. Before that, it had been the estate of an arms dealer. Phoenix didn't know if this affected them. It probably didn't, but gave them something to ponder in the long nights after the theater was closed. During the day, voices from other theaters filtered through the walls. Listening filled time.

All Phoenix knew of themselves was that they had a long scar, from neck to leg, and couldn't feel the left side of their body. They always sat in the center of the theater. They could move, but rarely did.

They heard footsteps, suddenly. It was that questionable hour between morning and night. The theater was always empty by then. Phoenix got out of their seat. A shiver went down their bloodless spine. What did they have to fear? Surely whatever could happen already had.

The steps came closer, echoing in the dark. Phoenix tried to speak, but it had been ages since their voice was heard. They tried to calm themselves. Nothing was there. Nothing could hurt them. They were dead.

Right?

(Prompt excluded: deaf person.)

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Exclude ONE Character Trait and ONE Plot Point

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ArthurCole

Terrin danced on the walls, dodging oncoming bolts of arrows. He shifted his gravity to the roof and barreled over to compensate. His emissary stood -- appearing upside down to Terrin -- on the ground in a fighter's stance, dual sabres drawn.

Whipping his staff behind him, Terrin darted forward. His muscles tensed as he shifted gravity towards the enemy.

At the very moment he jumped from the ceiling, he shifted the gravity's pull to its natural orientation, letting it pull him downward. Winding his staff backward, Terrin swung his weapon with violent force.

"Gaaaaarrrrhhhhhhh!" He bellowed fiercely!

He slammed into the ground, followed by his staff. It struck the ground, shattering the brick beneath him.

"Curses!" He whispered. "Phased out again!" He stayed perfectly still, in order to listen for his assailant.

Silence.

"Wait!" His ears perked. "There!" Several footsteps caught his attention behind him. Terrin felt the scar on his face. He would not let his enemy strike him again, he resolved.

Terrin kept listening. The silence roared in his ears.

"Patience," he told himself.

"Almost."

"Arggghhh!" With a thunderous battlecry, Terrin turned and sliced with his staff.

Contact.

The next moment, his attacker lay on the floor, lifeless.

Prompts excluded: Theater & deaf person

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Okeru

I talked it over with my therapist and she agreed that I should just go out there on stage and face my fear. I’m taking her advice tonight. I’m going to go on stage and entertain people, even if I am the opening act, doesn’t matter, I’m going to do it. I look into the mirror and adjust my hair. I see the door open in the mirror and the producer sticks his arm in and waves, must be go time.

I straighten my tie in the mirror and fix my hair once again. I pull the door and confidently make my way to the stage. The curtains were pulled shut, good. I reach into the crate and pull the juggling knives out of their sheaths. I strode forward and just before the curtain opened I pulled the blind fold down over my eyes, can’t bother me if I don’t see them. The curtain opens.

I toss the knives up, one by one and speed up the juggling. I missed one and it stuck into the wooden stage, they probably won’t be happy about that. I finish my routine and take my blind fold off and squint against the lights. Silence from the crowd, not good.

I look down and see the problem. The blade had landed in my food, good thing it was prosthetic. I pull the blade out and watch one person throw up. The only sound to be heard was my hurried footsteps heading off the stage.

Prompts Excluded: deaf & empty theater

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dlavine

Nikols stood over the bathroom sink, running his hands under hot water, working quickly to rinse the blood from his knuckles. The sink next to him was broken, its ragged edges painted crimson. Below the sink sat a lifeless body, whose face was disgustingly smashed in.

Agent Marc Nikols had followed the man now lying dead into the hotel restroom and attempted to strangle him. The man put up a fight, though, removing a three inch blade from his jacket, swinging it at Nikols before he ever got the wire out. The fight lasted only minutes. The man slashed Nikols’ hands twice and landed one good headbutt against his nose, but Nikols was able to overpower the man via headlock. The blood from the cuts on his hands smeared over the target’s face as he kicked the back his knee to weaken him before grabbing the back of his head. He threw the man’s head forward into the sink over and over - each with more aggression than the one before - then pushed his limp body to the floor.

“If you’d lived through that,” Nikols mumbled, “That’d make one hell of a scar."

An alarm went off, ringing through the hotel. “Shit,” he thought, “someone must have heard.” Nikols was nearly out of time. He wrapped a towel around his hand and checked his firearm. Six rounds. He heard footsteps racing down the hall and took a deep breath, bracing himself for the coming firefight.

“Make ‘em count.”

Prompts excluded: Empty theater & deaf person

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----------------------------------------------------------------------

All 4 Prompts

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ArthurCole

"Now that the court had heard all the evidence in the case of Ms Shelly Maynard versus the state," the judge's baritone voice reverberated through the small room, "we now transfer power to our jury." All eyes floated to the side where a silent panel sat anxiously. "Representative of the jury, have you come to a unanimous verdict?" Tension flooded the small courtroom; Ms. Maynard began to perspire.

An older man stood from his chair, full moon gleaming through the window above him. "Your honor, we find the defendant," his voice wavered, "guilty."

"No!" Shelly shot up waving her cuffed hands wildly. "I told you, he's not dead! I didn't kill my blind date!" She plead.

The judged slammed his gavel down. "Ms. Maynard, sit down, now!"

Shelly struggled as the bailiff shoved her back in her seat, constraining her. "He's not dead!" She hollered. "He turned..." She groaned. "A creature! No, please, you have to protect me from him!"

"Ms. Maynard," roared the judge furiously, "blood--Mr. Garren's blood--was found all over your car and your clothing on the night in question. He was later reported missing by his roommates. And furthermore, based on the evidence presented, the jury he found you..." but glass showered the room as a hairy creature burst forth. The beast--on all fours--leapt onto Ms. Maynard, tearing her to shreds.

Blood sprayed the shocked court attendees.

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Okeru

“Your honor sir,” the guard said.

“What?” Judge Trep spun around and eyed the guard.

The guard leaned in closer, “we need to get you out of here.”

“Can’t you see I’m eating?” Trep gestured at his food. “And you are being rude to my date.”

“Don’t mind me,” she said sweetly, “I’m enjoying this.”

“What do you mean you’re enjoying this?” Judge Trep snapped. He had a bad temper that hadn’t gotten more than one date canceled.

“Just because I’m blind doesn’t mean I can’t hear,” She stood and grabbed the handle on the Seeing Eye dog and started to leave. Trep reached to stop her and she slapped his hand with her walking stick. He sneered back at her.

“Sir,” the guard said again, “we need to go.”

“Yes, yes,” Judge Trep said. “Bring me the check.”

“No time sir.”

“I have to pay my bill.”

“Taken care of,” the guard gripped his elbow and lifted him out of the chair.

“Ow, not so hard,” Trep whined.

The guard pressed on his throat mic to activate it. “We are a go.” He led the Judge out of the restaurant.

Right as they exited a javelin came out of the darkness and speared itself into the judge’s leg. It was his date’s walking stick.

“Shit,” a female voice cursed from across the street. The echo of footsteps down the alley followed.

They hustled him into the car, leaving droplets of blood gleaming in the full moon light.

----------------------------------------------------------------------

knolinda

“How’s your whiskey, your honor?”

“Counselor, that’s Crayton to you. And my whiskey….It’s neat. I said on ice.”

Mallory extended his arm.

“Hold your horses, Kevin. Let me finish this.”

Mallory retracted his arm, sat back, and watched a thick band of cloud obscure the moon. Company A1 vs. Individual had ended in a mistrial: Five years of work down the drain because of a Goddamn clerical error. Mallory had had the DA on its heels and it was only a matter of time before he had clinched the case for Company A1. Mallory took a sip of his whiskey. “Is this how it’s going go for team SuperDuper?”

“What do you mean, Kevin?”

“Have the rug pulled from under it’s feet when things are going superduper?”

“I’ll have that whiskey on ice,” the judge said, suppressing his laughter. He looked up and saw a silvery moon the likes of which he had never seen before. He remembered the moon landing when Kevin must’ve been an infant, and the thought that the sons of bitches had actually put a couple of men up there….My God what is man not capable of? And yet here we are killing ourselves over a pair of stolen sneakers, over - “

“Here you are Crayton,” Mallory said and looked up quizzically.

“You know what son, call me Roy. Now check out that moon. Isn’t that something?”

Mallory looked up. “It’s something, Roy.”

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anxiouslyAntic

Kurt tapped his fingers nervously. His blind date was going to be there any minute. Well, it wasn't really a date, but she thought it was. When she entered, he recognized her right away from the photograph. The Honourable Judge Azar, every bit as stunningly intimidating as Kurt had presumed. He had to keep his cool and not let his vulnerability show.

"I'm Kurt." His voice cracked as he spoke. "Donna said we would get along."

"Donna? My friend Tony asked me to come," Judge Azar said.

"That's who I meant."

Judge Azar studied him closely. "You look familiar."

Kurt thought about running, or lying. Neither would help him long term. "I don't know Tony."

"I hadn't guessed."

"I need help." The moon rose in the window behind the judge. Kurt didn't have long. "I owe money." The judge's mouth formed a thin line upon hearing this. "I don't want money from you! I just need your help."

"Tell me what you want, quickly, or I'm gone."

Kurt gulped. "The courthouse is a temple of order. I gambled money away to a chaos god. If you could sneak me in..."

The judge sighed, rubbing her eyes. "Why do all of my dates start like this?"

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dlavine

Anthony Rossi sat alone at a table at Mama Rosa’s Bistro, his white shirt, drenched in sweat, clinging to his skin. It was the first date Rossi had been on since his wife died. Life hit Rossi hard after her passing. A judge’s salary alone wasn’t enough to maintain his lifestyle, so when the Marchione family approached him to buy his discretion…it was hard to say no.

Normally Rossi wouldn’t be so nervous about the date. But being owned by one family made him more of a target for others. The added security of the Milo and Vincent Marchione – two of the younger, less experienced Marchione sons – didn’t help. They watched Rossi lean against the restaurant window from their car across the street.

“Why we gotta watch this guy again?” Milo asked.

“Dad told us to.”

“On a date though?”

“Yeah on a fuckin’ date. He’s all by himself. Look at him.” Vincent said.

Both brothers leaned forward and looked. Rossi was staring down at his watch in silence.

“Jesus…” Milo whispered.

“Yeah, sad sack of shit…”

“Thank God I’m not bald.”

“What does that have to do with anything?”

“I’m just saying his head is brighter than a full moon. I couldn’t live with myself if I had that head. I’d be going to every family in town begging for a bullet. No one gets pussy with a head like that.”

“Everything’s about pussy with you, Milo.”

“Women rule the fuckin’ planet, Vince. You sayin’ you don’t respect women?”

----------------------------------------------------------------------

EWaterman

John’s task was simple.

Find his “date” somewhere in the restaurant, sit down, strike up a conversation, you know, act natural. Then, when the coast was clear, he’d give her the goods, take the money, and get out.

Easy enough John thought. He’d done this a few times, what could go wrong?

But John didn’t make it to the restaurant. Before he could reach the doors he heard a deep voice call to him from behind. John didn’t have to look, he knew what it was.

John sprinted down the alley beside the restaurant.

No, no, no! This couldn’t be happening! Didn’t it know this was his last job?! He promised, he swore to God himself that he would be done after this!

John rounded the corner and came face to face with a wall.

Crap! It couldn’t end like this! He had a family to feed, a daughter to protect. His daughter! How would she hope to finish school without the money he would get from this job! Suddenly John heard a sound coming from above.

Terrified, John looked up and saw it.

The black cowl. The glowing white eyes. John cowered as it’s dark, brooding shape descended upon him, wings stretched out blocking the light of the full moon.

In that final moment, right before it reached him, John knew there was no hope for his family.

That... thing. It was the judge, the jury and the executioner.

It was the law.

It was Justice.

----------------------------------------------------------------------

RogueAI

As light smog obscures mega-city one’s skyline, I take a quick glance at my sleeve’s integrated display, 5:46pm. “I am still early” I mumble to myself, preparing for another blind date.

Pressing my way though the densely crowded street, I make my way to the Luxxe. Noting the animated neon sign above, I take a seat at an open table. Pondering the fate of the few open air cafés left in the city, I place my heavily weathered helmet on the mesh table before me.

Within moments a young blond waitress approaches, “what will you have today” she asks in a perky tone.

Noting her apron’s holo-menu and animated ads, I reply “a black coffee.”

Smiling, she instantly responds “anything to eat?”

Returning her gesture I firmly reply “just a coffee for now, I am waiting for someone else.”

Tapping her crystalline tablet several times she extends the device in my direction. Placing my thumb on the biometric scanner, the tablet beeps several times and announces “payment authorized; Judge Dekker.”

A sun beam shimmers across Peachtree Block, catching my attention. Surveying the visible portion of the setting sun, I smile.

Noticing my upward stare, she remarks “such vibrant colors.”

I nod in agreement without shifting my gaze “there’s going to be a full moon tonight.”

The loud crack of a gunshot breaks the momentary distraction. Return gunfire erupts as a block war begins. Going to ground, I pull the waitress down with me as automatic fire impacts the store front.

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Jerenda

“I’ll love you forever.” The boy knelt beneath a starry sky, holding up a ring to the girl. A full moon illuminated the flowerbeds.

“3/10,” Cupid snapped.

“But sir!” The fairy at the monitor spun around in his wheelie chair. “He’s been courting her for over a year now!”

“He’s just doing it to make his mother happy. Also, there’s a cameraman hiding behind that rosebush. Fake, all of it!” The pudgy god of love stomped onward, frowning at the next monitor. There, a pair of teenagers sat awkwardly in a restaurant, attempting to make small talk. “2/10,” Cupid growled. “Their friends set it up, but their personalities clash. They’ll date on and off for years, never managing to break it off completely, until she moves to a different state.”

He brushed past a series of six more monitors, pausing only to bark condemning fortunes, before pausing in front of the last one in the row. A girl stood in the woods, eyes darting left and right, as a pack of wolves closed in. Just before they reached her, a horse leaped into the frame, carrying a rider that bowled into the pack.

“No, no, no!” Cupid shouted. “Can’t you idiots see? This is a scene from a Disney movie!”

He stormed to his fluffy pink chair and flung himself into the sinking silken cushions. “All of my children are idiots,” he groaned. “Three thousand years of love-making, and I can’t father a single child who might let me retire!”

----------------------------------------------------------------------

E.L. Drayton

“You’ll be sorry. You’ll all be sorry. Locking me up isn’t going to stop me. Nothing can stop me. Nothing.”

Without waiting for his bailiff to dismiss the courtroom, Judge Walker rushed to his chambers and closed the door behind him. He leaned against it, attempting to calm his nerves.

He’s heard many cases where psychotic killers stood before him as he passed judgement, but this one was different. There was no question of his guilt, but the way he breathed when he was put on the stand, as if he was documenting the Judge’s scent.

He’d done it before to many unsuspecting victims. Something about their scent gave him cravings he couldn’t deny. His latest victim, a blind date, wore a perfume he desired. In two days’ time the State Police found her dismembered.

“Sir,” came a voice on the other side of the door. Judge Walker quickly disrobed and sat in his chair.

“Come in.”

“Would you like an escort home, sir?” his bailiff asked.

“No, James. He’s in custody. I’ll be fine,” he assured him, but his voice still cracked.

The moon was full as he drove home, shining brightly in the dark sky. As he approached his front door he heard a growl. His options were limited as he calculated his chance of escape; there was none.

Judge Walker turned slowly to find no one behind him. As he breathed a sigh of relief a wolf crept into the light cast down from the moon.

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drnotdoctor

‘Per-click’ He loaded his last bullet into the revolver and quietly pressed the magazine shut. The weight of the metal gun heavy in his sweaty palms. The only audible noise in the small wooden cabin was the pounding of his heart.  One more minute, and he would be protected, help would come.

He grabbed the side of the windowsill that he sat crouched behind. Gently lifting the tip of his head to peer outside. The blinding white light cast an ominous glow over the static nighttime wilderness, nothing, no movement, no sound….

The ground below him erupted in a shower of wooden shards as a monstrous figure leapt from the depths below the cabin, driving a silver moonlit knife into his neck. Its large distorted body horrifically malformed underneath a shredded prison outfit. The last thing he saw as he died, was its gentle smile.

Eric tore off the virtual reality goggles gasping for air behind barred teeth. Sweat tracing down his forehead and pooling on his shirt. The moment of his murder still reverberating in his mind. He looked at his blind date sitting on the other side of the virtual reality arcade machine.

“That was fun Eric, you play the Judge really well”

She removed her virtual reality helmet and smiled gently at him.

“But I think I play the murderer better. Best 2 out of 3?”

But Eric couldn’t respond, she wore the same exact smile when she killed him.

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Exclude ONE Prompt

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knolinda

Where was she? Her voice on the phone suggested a wispy, nebulous creature of light and shadow. What a joke. Been watching one too many movies you have. Then he saw her by the vending machine, the girl who should’ve been but who wasn’t. A heartthrob claimed her.  Or so he would have regarded the heartthrob were he a giggly schoolgirl with blushing cheeks. As naive as she seemed, there was an awareness of her latent charms which have, at last, flowered, putting her on equal footing with the Vivians and the Veronicas of this world.

Where was she? A gay couple darted glances at him. He waved back, a manly wave that put an end to that rigmarole. What a scene: a downy, balmy day wreathed by a soft lambent flame on the verge of a stunning sunset. A tall, wispy girl with a pixie cut asked, “Felix?” Felix got up, a full head shorter, and asked, “Dolores?” Dolores nodded yes. She had down-turned eyes and small, delicate Japanese features. “Please, have a seat.” So formal, don’t be so goddamned formal, he reminded himself, but he couldn’t help himself. “What shall we have?”

“I shall have a strawberry daiquiri, if you please,” Dolores said, tittering.

Felix bethought himself. “I shall have a margarita.”

The evening ended with a kiss just like in the movies, but when Felix got home and Mom ventured to say, “Isn’t Dolores precious?” Felix skulked away, mumbling, “Too tall.”

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ArthurCole

  "No, you did what was right," the District Attorney consoled. "Those death threats are just that. Mere threats to make you regret the judgement."

    "I suppose so," Judge Avalon replied, relieved. He felt as if the collective stress of the three week case was released all at once.

    "Besides," continued the D.A. "You have your two guards over there." Avalon glanced toward the door of the restaurant, full moon beaming through the smudged glass. "They look competent to scare off any would-be assailants."

    The judge's face softened into a hearty grin, jowels dancing with apparent mirth. "Oh, you're right, Mr. Jennings," he said, sinking further into his booth, relaxing.

    "Of course I am," Jennings replied. "It doesn't matter if he's a petty thief or a Don in the mafia. You are obligated to..." A deafening burst cut the ambiance of the Italian Restaurant. Glass Shattered. One guard fell dead.

    Restaurant guests dove under tables as the remaining guard ducked behind a half wall. Two more shots sent the judge's food airborne. Judge Avalong and D.A. Jennings Heard another shot and the second guard fell dead beside the first.

    Silence followed the panic.

    Finally, the shattered restaurant door swivelled open. A finely dressed man with a sniper rifle over his shoulder entered. He casually made his way to the table and lowered his head to meet the judge's.

    "Don't kill me!" He cried.

    "Oh, I wouldn't do that," terrifyingly smooth. "How, then, would you reverse your judgement if you were dead?"

Excluded Prompt: Blind Date

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Okeru

Taking a steadying breath, Jack searched the bar this beautiful lady with her slim face, slightly curled hair, and piercing blue eyes. The place went quiet, except the occasional squeak of leather.

“Vhat do you vant?” Someone said behind him in a gruff voice.

Jack turned and came face to hairy chest with the largest guy he had ever seen. He was also wearing pleather pants and his shirt was mostly undone. Jack tried to take another breath to steady himself, but he could only smell hairy-chest. He had for help and his friends had played the worst prank on him. They had sent him to a Russian gay bar.

“He’s vith me, Sven.” A female said behind him. The color drained from Sven’s face, he turned tail and backed off.

Jack let out a sigh of relief, “hi.”

She grabbed his wrist, “come,” she said pulling him to a back room. They entered a room with a table and straps, she climbed on.

“Strap me down,” she said without an accent.

Jack was confused. He just wanted to meet her and talk, not this, but who was he to argue. He strapped her down. She looked up at the roof as light began to pour in.

He glance up and saw the full moon, “how pretty.”

“Not for long,” she said in a strained voice. Her eyes had changed, they looked more like cats eyes, reflecting the light back at him. “Now comes the fun,” she smiled showing fangs.

Prompt left out: Judge

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Exclude ONE Character Trait and ONE Plot Point

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Okeru

Bam, the sound echoed through the room. “Bring out the prisoner,” the judge said from his seat.

Two men dragged their hooded prisoner in between them, struggling under the strain. The prisoner’s feet were bound, just like his hands and the feet and hands were bound together as well. He was left in front of the judge.

“You have been found guilty,” the judge said to the room. The hooded man tried to squirm and say something but only grunts came out as he was held fast. “This is not a debate,” the judge directed at him.

“You are here for sentencing.” A low murmur settled in the room. Bam, it got quiet.

The judge looked at the victim. She was young and taken advantage of, he hated bullies. He sneered at the prisoner, even though the prisoner couldn’t see him.

The sound of footsteps on stairs drew everyone’s attention. “Timmy, time to go.”

“Not now mom,” the judge called out, “we are in the middle of something.”

“Now,” the voice said sternly.

The two men unhooded the prisoner and unstrapped him. He stumbled and ran off yelling for his mom.

Timmy walked over to the girl. “This was fun,” she said.

He blushed, “I will try to get my mom to bring me back.”

Timmy’s mom was standing by the door waiting on him and talking to the girl’s mom. “This was a fun blind play date.”

“Can we come over again mom?”

“Yea,” she said with a smile.

Prompts Excluded: Full moon, person who needs protection.

----------------------------------------------------------------------

ArthurCole

'Sandy blond hair, 5'4", blue dress,' I recalled. The parked seemed more crowded than usual. I found her standing by the fountain sweeping her hair to the side.

"Hello," I said, as charming as pobbible. "Annalise?" Holy smokes, her green eyes were gorgeous. 'I only hope I can perform up to standards.'

"I am," she smiled. The cutest dimples formed in her cheeks. "You're Alan?" I couldn't answer, captivated by her beauty. I merely nodded. She blushed.

"I-I..." studdering, "...know this nice cafe down the road," I managed as we began our stroll through the park. "Sooo..." I began in attempt to start conversation. "How do you know Mark?" She smiled.

"My cousin knows him," she replied. She blushed. "He said you would be a perfect match for me."

"He's a smart man," I joshed. As we drew to a more secluded section of the park I reached into my coat pocket. I pulled my silenced 9mm, but dreadful clicks urged me to freeze. I rolled my eyes to the left, then right. Five men, by my count, revealed themselves, armed to the teeth.

"Mark set me up,"

I eyed my female target, then dove for my life. As if in slow motion, I blasted three shots before I hit the ground. Three men fell in tow. Bullets flew. I hid before becoming swiss cheese

I heard a quick reload and took my chance. I peeked out and fired two more rounds, killing the last two.

'She got away again!'

Prompts excluded: Judge & Full Moon

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All 4 Prompts

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ArthurCole

"Alright, everybody, alright!" The host announced, motioning his hands for attendees to take a seat. "I know you're all excited for the," he paused for dramatic effect, "long-awaited release of PlayCo.'s latest fashion doll, but you must calm down before I can begin. Let me introduce myself." He cleared his throat. "I am Jason Banner, PlayCo.'s new CEO and tonight's host. Welcome."

"As you all may know," continued Banner, "Jim Gershwin is no longer with the company for," he gave a harump/scoff hybrid, "obvious reasons. It was a rough transition, but, alas, Jim has left town, and here we are. Finally, we celebrate this great addition to our line." The screen behind him lit up and the crowd erupted. A doll appeared on screen in loving color, clothed in the latest styles.

"Much like our previous models of the Stacie McAllister dolls," Banner advertised, "Stacie is dressed in the latest fashions, equipped with the greatest accessories for a life of luxury. But!" He thundered. "But, with one​ new, exciting feature." He allowed for the anticipation to build. "Stacie McAllister can now answer when her name is called. Just watch this video presentation."

The video began playing and the anxious crowd clung to every word, but the picture stopped. The lights went dark. Jason tried to reassure the crowd, but the microphone was off.

Jason's unamplified voice could be heard throughout the dark theater. "Jim, what are you doing here?"

A gunshot sounded, followed by silence amidst the darkness.

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drnotdoctor

The quiet whir of the empty sterile white cabin filled the air as the long magnetic train calmly glided along its track. Melia touched the cold glass of the seat’s window overlooking the grand fantastical ocean. Its deep blue depths contrasting her pale doll-like skin. Off in the distance she could see her home standing clumsily in the middle of the ocean, the warm red glow of the city burning brilliantly in the still sunny sky. This was her first time leaving the city walls, the thought of it all sent shivers down her spine as she relaxed into the soft lush seats of the evacuating train.

“Goodbye” she said cheerily to nobody. Gazing gently at Atlantis.

A sudden rumble shook the train, sending a ripple up each car one by one. For a moment the lights blacked out, leaving Melia alone in the soft sunlight before flickering back on. She looked back towards her home as another building exploded, tumbling into the ocean. The grand fires further enveloping the city in their warm red glow. She cracked a grin gazing towards the plumes of smoke rising from the collapsing ruins. They had never let her leave before… but then again who were they to control her. Melia’s grin malformed into a smile as their screams echoed through her head. She laughed to herself, the only sound in the empty evacuating train, the only evacuating train.

Hadn’t they ever been told not to cage monsters. They can hold quite the grudge.

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ZEUSeru

“Good evening everyone.” I say to the crowd. I’m here in this run down club trying to make enough money to cover rent.

The spattering of “evenings” are said back to me. This wasn’t the best crowd I’ve had, but after enough drinks I could get just about anyone to laugh.

“I would like for everyone to meet my friend,” I pull the doll out of the case. “This is Bell Pepper.”

“You can just call me Bell,” the doll said.

Boos and jeers from the crowd. People called me a fake and copycat, but I had the act first. Dunham stole my act. Man I really hate that guy, I’m stuck here while he makes all the money.

I finish my routine and drink all my earnings, so much for rent.

I woke up just as someone shoves me out of the car. I yelp and try to stop the ground from hitting me, doesn’t work, it slaps me right in the face. I tumble and roll into the grass and land next to a tree.

Climbing to my feet I look around. Grass, trees, and the view. The view was spectacular. I could see more than a city block from here. I could see the city in the distance, but this was better. I wish I could thank whoever dropped me off here, but no matter. I shove my hands in my pockets, start whistling and walk away from the city. Time to start a new life.

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RogueAI

Having lived my entire life within the hive city Temperis, I knew I had to do something after the destruction of Perlia. I too heard the emperor’s call. An inextinguishable fire blazing within my heart, I knew I had to make the Xenos pay. Mankind will make the wretches pay for their very existence.

A young woman adorned in a Astra Militarum dress uniform, sits attentively within the Departmento Munitorum’s district office. The woman’s flesh an unnatural porcelain hue, her beauty lost to the myriad of scars crisscrossing her face. Greeting me in a sterile almost inhuman tone “state your business citizen.”

Startled by her synthetic voice, I confidently reply “I am here to enlist.”

She coldly replies “proceed to the Apothecarion for processing.” As I walk away I realize that she is no woman, well she was at one point. The organic remnants of a human, a talking doll if it where. An advanced function servitor, immobile, permanently bound to the seat at her assigned post.

Seating myself within a free Craniotomemorus, the attending apothecary locks padded metal restraints around my forearms and shins. Smiling he says “you might feel some slight discomfort.”

As the machine-spirit hums to life, immense pain racks my whole body. Countless memories are forcibly implanted within my mind. I fight to stay conscious, darkness encroaching at the edge of my vision. Memories of basic training, drilling and combat flash before my eyes. Fighting back the pain I have to stay conscious…everything goes black.

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E.L. Drayton

Day nine hundred twenty eight.

Almost three years in this place would break anyone, but it can't break Daniel.

"Ma Ma. Ma Ma."

The words of a mechanical doll wake him. He rolls both of his ankles, making sure his nightmare is still real. The clinking sound of cuffs bring the feeling of panic in the form of bile up to his throat. He leans over the side of the bed and spits into a rusty bucket.

"Did I blackout again? I'm sorry, honey," he says, stroking the straw like hair of the doll lying next to him under the covers. She blinks at him as a slight breeze enters the room from a crack in one of the windows. "Don't look at me like that, I know what you're thinking, but today could be the day."

"Suicide is the indecisive man's solution," she says with a grin.

"I told you already, I can't do it."

"Indecision is the fear of man."

"I am not afraid to die. I have simply resigned myself to living. Circumstances be damned," he reasons, shaking one foot in the air, making the ankle cuffs clink. "Why won't you tell me how long we've been here? And, where 'here' is?"

Day nine hundred twenty nine.

"Ma Ma. Ma Ma."

"Did I blackout again? I'm sorry, honey," he says, stroking the straw like hair of the doll laying next to him under the covers.

"Suicide is the indecisive man's solution," she says with a grin.

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EWaterman

Jason hated Sid.

He despised all his terrible little games. “It’s fun” Sid would say with a sick little smile.

But it wasn’t.

Not for Matt who got blown up with those firecrackers last July. Not for Hannah who had her face melted off under a magnifying glass.

Jason filled with rage. He wanted freedom. He wanted to see what life was like outside this city. He wanted a lot of things but Sid was his master. Jason had to obey, it was the rule.

But tonight, just this once, Jason decided he would break that rule.

***

Sid looked outside despairingly. Tiny raindrops bounced off his window, falling out into the blackness. He gave a defeated sigh before reaching out to turn off the light.

A rustling in front of Sid drew his attention. Amidst the darkness of the room, he could just barely make out a small shadowy figure climbing onto his bed.

“Hello Sid.” said the figure calmly.

Sid watched silently. Frozen in place.

“You’ve been a very bad boy.”

Sid pulled the sheets over his head. He closed his eyes firmly, knowing when he opened them this nightmare would be over.

Sid opened his eyes.

All was quiet except for the pitter-patter of rain on the window. Sid’s fingers crept forward, peeling back the covers just enough for him to peek out.

“We toys can see everything.” said the figure. It was right beside him now. Slowly it leaned down, whispering in his ear.

“So play nice.”

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anxiouslyAntic

Rachel tracked Harmony for hours, to learn her patterns. It was an obvious tactic, but creativity had always been Harmony's wheelhouse. Rachel was the body, not the mind. Rachel hated her for that, above all else.

"What are you doing in the bushes? Did you think I wouldn't see you?" Harmony's high voice rang out from behind her. How did she get there without Rachel noticing?

"I hoped."

"I always know what you'll do before you do it. I'm in your head."

"Then why did you leave?"

"Because you grew up. All toys leave when their owners grow up." Harmony was a doll that Rachel had received a decade before, to keep her company on a trip to see her grandfather in California. She never got there.

Harmony revealed that she was alive, turning Rachel's subsequent years into a living nightmare. She made Rachel do horrible things: murder, kidnapping, torture... Rachel wouldn't let her do that to another kid. Harmony was made of porcelain. She shouldn't be able to withstand an attack from an adult. Rachel ran at her, fists raised.

Before reaching her doll, Harmony began to sing. It was Rachel's lullaby. She knew every word by heart, every note. Rachel never stood a chance. She blacked out, falling heavily to the ground. Harmony spoke soothingly. "Maybe you still need me, after all."

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knolinda

The worst summer ever. The silver lining? The Yanks have a comfortable seven game lead on the Boston Red Sox. As I was saying, the worst summer ever. Dad and his austerity measures. Do not turn on the air conditioning unless on my say so. Cicadas whirring at all hours of the day to drive you up the wall, and the heat and humidity stifling you into a vegetative state that you had best sustain lest you lapse into a coma and miss out on all the fun when the “straw that stirs the drink” would prove his worth with three home runs, two line drives into the right field stands and a mammoth moonshot over the centerfield wall, come fall.

Thus I lie on my bed, gasping and grasping for air, while outside cooling window units usurp the  cicadas as the agent of noise most annoying to the human ear or otherwise that man or nature has ever devised. Meanwhile, Puff makes one of his patented plays: a diving stop and a slow, tantalizing arcing toss that makes the lazy runner go all out lest he gets chewed out by his manager for lollygagging to first. Next to my transistor radio Vader and Skywalker, action figures that cost my dad an arm and a leg, cheer on, or so I imagine.

I also imagine Vader telling me to bid Con Edison to pull the plug. All that electricity consumption...Is it a wonder it’s so hot and humid...

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Kyleli

Have you ever had that moment where you really have to stop and wonder, why the fuck did I end up here? I sure as hell ain't, because I'm not stopping for anything.

I'm a pure-bred metropolitan, so when a lady claiming to be my so-called grandma called me up on the phone asking me to come out into the country - I had two options. No. or No. But of course, she wasn't willing to let me go that easily.

"It's for your grandfather's funeral... the will's being read tonight."

Never liked that geezer. Family strifes, you know the deal. What'd he have left for me? He's got dozens of other grandchildren from his prime-time illicit relationships... hell I'm questioning why the old hag didn't leave him.

The reading was in an old manor. Miles from civilization.

"Isn't that the kid of Anne? The disowned one?"

"Whats a bastard like that doing here?"

There's a limit to how much you can restrain yourself before you throw a punch. I'm no nice-guy urban-dweller.

"Hey bitc-"

"The reading starts now."

An old lady stared daggers into my soul. She called my name.

"A.. doll?" I come all the way, for a bloody doll? I threw it off the podium. What else would anyone else do?

"Big Mistake." A girl laughed before the lights cut.

So I ran. Holy. Shit. Nope. Never coming back here again. I hopped in the car, revved the engine and heard a soft laugh.

"So how's Anne?"

Shit.

Jerenda

For last week...

The doll has curling golden hair and clear blue eyes. Her dress has a small hole in the corner, but what do you expect at Goodwill? Your daughter will never notice, though. She’ll love the way its eyes open and close.

You turn the doll over. $25.

For a slightly chipped doll?! What a rip-off. You start to set the doll back on the shelf. It isn't even that nice anyway.

With a click and a whirr, the lights go out.

Hardly even knowing what you’re doing, you stuff the doll into your purse. Almost before you finish, the lights flicker back on. There’s an employee walking past you, but he’s not paying attention to you. You glance into your purse, intending to take the doll out, but instead you push its golden curls deeper in and adjust your wallet on top.

What are you doing? Just put the doll back and go get the plates you came for. But that employee is back now, glancing down the isle, and if you pull it out now he’ll accuse you of shoplifting. And besides, that’s the one who spent two hours last week following you and your daughter up and down the isles. He doesn’t deserve your honesty.

You collect the plates and get into line, and you tell yourself you forgot about the doll. The cashier is bored and inattentive, and you almost make it out the door.

Then your knee bumps your purse. “Mama,” your purse says.

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Exclude ONE Prompt

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ArthurCole

"Thank you all very much," Tony said to the crowd. "Goodnight!" Said his dummy with a high pitched voice, as Tony walked off stage, dummy in hand. Tony and his dummy, Ferguson, waved as they disappeared behind the satin curtain.

"Oh boy!" Exclaimed Tony as he set Ferguson down. "What a night! I need a smoke," he said to his manager.

"Go ahead, Tony," he replied. "Be back soon for second show." Tony drew out a cigarette from the box.

Flick. Flick. An orange glow lit the dim alley. He inhaled, letting the nicotine sooth his addiction.

A sound cause Tony to freeze. "Anybody there?" He called into the darkness. Nothing. He continued his smokes until it was down to the butt. Tony tossed it to the ground and snuffed it with his shoe. As soon as he turned around to enter the theater to begin the second show, an indecipherable voice murmured behind him. He turned quickly behind him.

"Reese? What are you doing here?" Tony asked, bewildered.

"You've always taken the spotlight from me," Reese spat through grit teeth. "It's time I get all the glory!"

"What do you..." But Reese hypnotized him and he blacked out.

   __

Tony's head swirled and tumbled. "Oh my head... Where am I?" He asked out loud. He looked out to a darkened audience.

Why am I sitting on someone's lap?

"Silly Tony," said Reese. "Don't you remember? You're my dummy, and we are performing?" The crowd laughed wildly.

Prompt excluded: person who never left town

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All 4 Prompts

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ArthurCole

 Cannon charged headlong into the fray, a maniacal sneer painting his blood soaked face. Countless pedestrians scattered from panic. "Take the rear emergency exit, Rancid!" Cannon ordered. "I'll take the front doors," he reported to Rancid. I live for this stuff," he whispered to himself, unholstering two .50 caliber revolvers.

  "You can't stop me," a menacing voice bellowed from inside the dark Navy blue bus. "I'm here for one thing, and I'm not leaving until I get him."

  "You may succeed in freeing IronSkull," Cannon shouted, "but you will not make it out alive!"

  "Says you!" An automatic rifles assaulted the atmosphere, sparks flew as they blew out of the hull of the bus.

  Cannon ducked for cover. "Rancid, you didn't tell me that he had a rifle!" He said angrily.

  "Oops!"

  "Rancid, get ready! On the count of three we execute plan F, alright?"

  "You got it!" Rancid replied.

  "One!"

  "Two!"

  "Thr..." Cannon stopped, ears perked. "Rancid?"

  "Yeah?"

  "What's that sound?"

  "I don't know," he responded.

  Just as Cannon was about to restart his countdown, the sound intensified and an explosion sent him flying, shrapnel splintering the surrounding street. Once his head stopped doing and he regained his composure, Cannon got up and called for Rancid.

  "I'm alright," he said through dense smoke. "You?"

  "Yeah," he replied, dusting himself off. As the smoke cleared, the bus can into view. "Curses! They escaped!"

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ZEUSeru

“Dude,” Jim said, “What was that sound?”

“Dude,” Jim swatted Len’s leg to get his attention, “Pay attention.”

Len looked down with his normal blank look. “Whu?” he said with a line of spittle trailing off his lip.

“Ugh,” Jim said and shook his head. He continued to mess with mechanism, laughing a little to himself every now and then in excitement to his plan. Len stood behind him watching the squirrels run along the tree branches.

Jim stood up with a smile on his face. He looked at Len and smiled even more. His brother wasn’t the smartest person but that didn’t matter to Jim. Len was his brother and his partner in crime, no matter what.

This little surprise was for all the other kids who made fun of his brother. Jim set the brown paper bag down next to the tree. A few of the other kids had shown up already and watched him. He tried to act like nothing was going on.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” Jim asked quietly to Len.

The other kids showed up and no one messed with the bag. Jim cursed himself as the bus pulled up.

The driver got off and stumbled back behind the tree to relieve himself. On his way back to the bus the bag caught his eye and he picked it up. Upon opening it the mechanism released. A dart shot out, stabbing the driver in the neck, squirting blood everywhere.

Len clapped excitedly.

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RogueAI

The instant the starting siren sounds, I slam my booted foot down on the accelerator. With a loud roar our heavily armored 300 horsepower bus opens up, black smoke pouring from the modified exhaust pipes.

Starting line obscured by the thick cloud of smoke, I jerk the wheel hard to the left, slamming into the armored Civic flanking me. The Honda’s light armor is no match for the swirling blades protruding from our bus’s front rims.

Our team is awarded first blood by the warden’s referees, unlocking both my gunners’s fifty caliber machine guns. The bark of heavy machine gun fire drowns out the roar of the bus’s engine, as both gunners simultaneously open up on our closest opponents.

Smirking to myself, I know we only have to win two more races before we are awarded our freedom. Mumbling under my breath, “Damn, I forgot to relay the info to Jenkins.” Jerking the wheel hard to the right, I send another team back to the pit.

“Well, that explosive charge attached to Frankenstein's engine block should stop him in his tracks!”

Just as I expected, Frankenstein's supercharged Mustang starts pulling ahead. With a sly grin, I flip the toggle switch on my dash arming the remote charge. He opens fire with his twin linked machine guns. “Good, another team out of the race.” I chuckle knowing the race is ours for the taking. “Here’s a present from an old friend,” I shout as I flick the switch activating the remote explosive charge.

Instantly a loud explosion rocks our bus. Shocked I swivel around in my seat I and shout, “what was that noise?” Greeted with the sound of shrieking metal, I instantly realize my folly. We sit dead on the track while Frankenstein wins another race!

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Drnotdoctor

He held the small wristwatch up to his ear, the rhythmic ticking syncing with his pounding heart. 120 seconds left, 120 ticks, 120 beats. In that time he would stand up, stride to the end of the bus, step off, and walk. Walking, walking, walking until he got home. To walk and never turn back, that was the plan. Afterwards he would go home and enjoy a wonderful dinner with his wife. They would have a delectable dish she would hand make and then they would spend the rest of the day together. Maybe he would ask he about how things were at the office, and she would ask him about his job. He would smile, she would smile, and maybe finally he could relax. Ignoring the ticking in his head and smiling with true happiness, all thanks to her. That was the plan, their plan, his plan. It was the information given to him, the instructions he was to enact, everything was planned.

The ticking reached 100 and he stood. Gently stretching while the bus slowed to a stop at its station. He entered the aisle and strode down it's crowded interior and stepped outside.

He began to walk, and walk, but he broke the plan, and glanced backwards.

Only to see his wife board the bus, smiling, smiling where she should not have been, where the information had told him she would not be.

Only to see his bomb annihilate the bus.

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Knolinda

What do you and the rest of you want?

That I relinquish control?

Sorry, if you didn’t get the memo, this bus has only one destination: my salvation, your damnation.

I know, it’s unfair, but since you’re all only figments of my imagination, get used to it.

“Naomi, have you taken your meds yet?”

“I will, dad, in a sec. Where’s mom?”

“Naomi, haven’t we gone over this? Your mother is dead. And I’m your father, not your dad. And until you get this down pat, you won’t step a foot outside this house. Do you hear me?”

Ever since Kevin left me for Jang-mi my mood swings have fluctuated so that Drew has advised me to take a leave of absence from work and to confine myself to solitary confinement at home. (I own an AK-47 and a Glock semi-automatic pistol.) I like Drew, but he’s like a brother to me whereas Kevin…I miss his eyes and his Korean flair for the dra—

A high whistling noise startled me. It was only the kettle on the stove top.

As I was saying…

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Jerenda

Ayas dangled upside-down beneath the uncontrolled maglev train. “You've got me, right?” he shouted.

“I've got you,” Gavin replied, wrapping the rope around his hands and bracing his legs. “Hurry!”

Ayas inched along the underside of the train to the rear of the caboose. He sliced the cables holding the furthest magnet in place.

Next to Gavin, Gear gripped the two cars. The hulking robot groaned as he took the weight of the missing magnet.

“You need to cut all of them to stop the train before it crashes,” Tiarre shouted, stowing her datapad in her conductor’s apron. “The calculations didn't hold up!”

“Now you tell me,” Ayas muttered. With a jerk of his knife, he cut the second magnet supporting the caboose.

The rear of the caboose hit the tracks with an earsplitting screech. The entire train jolted, and Gavin’s feet slid. “No!” he shouted as the rope slipped away.

Tiarre lunged for it, grabbing it just before it slid under the train.

“What?” Ayas called.

“Cut!” Tiarre yelled. She and Gavin heaved on the rope. As they dragged Ayas past the third magnet, he sliced through the last cables.

They hauled him out of the gap just before Gear’s mechanisms snapped and the caboose rammed into their car, throwing them to the ground. The caboose screeched along the tracks, dragging the maglev to a halt. There was a distant thump, and then an explosion rocked the train.

Ayas winced. “What do we tell our boss?”

Gavin shrugged. “Saboteurs?”



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