December26 (2): Well, that’s awkward…

Prompt: write a story about a writer who reads/writes fanfiction of his own characters. Taken from /r/WritingPrompts (I didn’t actually know there were non-scary parts of Reddit).

It was always kind of funny when someone “yelled” at Rob, all in capital letters, telling him that Sirena and Michael would never have got together like that, and how way off base he was. He was well aware of that, and he wrote it as an experiment. There was never any telling how angry fans were going to get, though. He wondered how they’d react if they knew it was him writing the pairing they so despised.

He’d had to spend a fair bit of time on Urban Dictionary, learning the meanings of terms like “I can’t even!” and “My feels!” but he now knew enough that he could maintain a conversation while sounding like one of his own fans. He just had to remember not to mention too many things that weren’t actually specified in the books, or to at least frame it as an interpretation and not canon if he did mention it.

His only regret? Not learning what a “kink meme” is before he clicked the link…

December 26 – A Blind Date Gone Wrong…

Prompt: Your main character is an anxious 39-year-old woman. The story begins in a stately home. A blind date is the start of something big. The theme of the story is pride.

“It’s a… uh, nice place here, isn’t it?” Judy sat down in the chair the waiter had pulled out for her. She placed her hands on the table and tried to wring them too much. She didn’t want to show how nervous she was.

“A beautiful spot,” Eric agreed. “The house was built in the 1740s on the instruction of Lord Matheson.”

“I see.” Judy didn’t really know anything about the history of the stately home in whose restaurant they were eating, or who Lord Matheson had been. She wondered how much else Eric knew about it.

“Would sir and madam like to begin with drinks?” the waiter asked.

“Oh, yes, please,” said Eric. “Judy, what would you like?”

“Oh, um… red wine, please.”

Eric scanned the wine list and pointed to one. “A bottle, please.”

“Of course, sir.”

When the waiter was gone, Eric leaned forward toward Judy and it was all she could do to not lean back away from him. She bit her lip.

“So,” he said, “tell me about yourself.”

“Oh, well, there’s not much to tell, really. I work for an insurance company. I have an English major.” She shrugged, not quite making eye contact. “What else do you want to know?”

“Oh, come on, I’m sure there’s plenty more to know. What’s your favourite colour? Favourite holiday destination? What are your hobbies?”

He was asking the questions very quickly and Judy tried to remember them in order. This felt more like a job interview than a date.

“All right. My favourite colour is yellow. I… I don’t really have a favourite holiday destination. I don’t really go anywhere much.”

“That’s a shame. Why not?”

“Well, I… I don’t like going to places I don’t know.”

“You came here today.”

“Well, yes, but I’ve driven past this place before. It’s sort of familiar.” From his expression, Judy was fairly sure that he didn’t buy that reason, true as it was for her. “What about you?” she asked quickly, steering the conversation away from herself. “Where do you go on holidays?”

“Well, I’ve been quite a few places around Europe, recently. I took my daughter to Greece over the summer, for instance.”

“Greece. Lovely.” Judy was trying her hardest not to feel in adequate.

“Oh! I almost forgot.” Eric leaned down and picked up a small bag that he had placed under the table earlier. “I know we don’t know each other yet, but I brought you something.”

“Oh… you didn’t have to do that.” Judy wondered if that was customary, and if she should have brought something to. It was a blind date. Surely gifts weren’t expected?

“Give me your hand,” said Eric, drawing a silver bracelet out of the bag. Judy’s eyes widened. It looked expensive. She drew her hand back, not letting him slip the bracelet over her wrist.

“I’m sorry, Eric, I can’t accept this.”

“Oh, don’t be like that. Please, take it.”

“No, I…” Judy took a deep breath. She hated having to do this. “Look, Eric, I’m sorry, I’m not sure this is going to work.”

“We haven’t even been here that long.”

“No, we haven’t. And you’re already giving me expensive jewellery. I’m sorry, that’s just too fast.”

“Well.” Eric looked as embarrassed as Judy felt. “At least help me drink the wine we’ve already ordered.”

“All right. I’m sorry to be like this.”

“No, it’s… it’s all right. I suppose I should have thought a bit more.”

Thankfully, the wine arrived soon after, and they were able to distract themselves. The waiter did seem a little surprised when Eric informed him they would no longer be staying for lunch, but he didn’t ask questions.

Once they had finished, Judy pulled some money out of her purse and gave it to Eric before he could object. There was no way she was going to let him insist on paying. The wine wasn’t the cheapest, so she was certainly chipping in. As they stood before Eric went to pay, Judy held out her hand.

“I’m sorry it didn’t work out,” she said.

“Better to nip it in the bud than let it quickly turn into something awful, I suppose.”

“Yes. It was nice to meet you, though.”

“You, too, Judy. Good luck.”

With that, Eric moved towards the counter while Judy made her way to the door. When she reached her car, she couldn’t help but sigh in relief. Perhaps now the people who had been trying in vain to set her up with someone would let up.

December 23 – Only for one night…

Author’s note: Prompt is the opening line. All my writing is becoming Christmas-y lately. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. 😀 I was actually hoping it would end up a little longer and deeper, but not to worry.

It was only for one night. Darren supposed he could manage that. Maybe earn some karma points. His girlfriend, Erin, had volunteered them both to help out at the local soup kitchen on Christmas Eve. She hadn’t consulted him, but how do you back out of something like that?

When they arrivead, they were each presented with a Santa hat and loud wished for a Merry Christmas. Since neither of them had been there before, they were introduced to the regular organisers, before being led around into the kitchen area, where three Bain-maries were full of various seasonal foods. Darren and Erin were put on stations there, along with two others.

It wasn’t very long before the recipients of the food began arriving. Those who volunteered regularly greeted several of the guests by name. Darren flinched at a couple of them. Their clothes were tatty, some had holes where you didn’t really want holes to be, and some of them really did smell like they hadn’t showered in a week. But he found that the other volunteers seemed to be able to ignore all that, and that once he got chatting, so could he.

Once the food had been dished out, the volunteers sat down with their guests. Toasts were made, grace was said, and then they all tucked in together. Darren was sitting next to a man who was trying to find a job so he could begin supporting his kids again. As they talked, Darren found himself thinking about how he might really help this guy out. He would certainly have wanted some sort of support if it were him in the situation.

When they got back in the car at the end of the night, Erin turned to Darren. “That wasn’t bad, was it?”

“Actually, it was kind of awesome,” Darren admitted.

“And who was grumbling all the way here?”

“All right, you win. Maybe we should come back in the New Year. Do this more often.”

“I like the sound of that.”

December 22 – On a deserted island…

Author’s note: I sort of gave up on the short story writing for last week. I just had too many things on, and reading was easier in the downtime. However, now that the Christmas play I was working on is finished up, and that the Christmas break is upon us, it’s time to knuckle down and complete a story each day for the rest of the year. The prompt for this one was the opening line.

~*~

She clung onto the piece of driftwood, praying for daylight. The water was bitter cold, and she had no idea how far she’d drifted. She didn’t know if any of her shipmates had survived. All she could do is hope there was shore in sight when the sun came up, and hope that it was land that she could make some use of.

She was starting to get tired. The adrenaline that had been coursing through her since the storm hit was starting to wear off and she was beginning to crash. She leaned her head against the driftwood, and closed her eyes, hoping that would provide enough respite and give her the strength to hold on a bit longer.

Time dragged on, and then finally, she saw a hint of gold on the horizon. And just in front of it, a small greenish-brown mound. She couldn’t believe her luck. She felt so relieved she nearly let go of her piece of wood, and caught herself just in time to avoid sinking. She’d held on for far too long for it to come to that. Slowly, she paddled herself around with one arm, and began making her way towards the distant shoreline. When she reached it, she pulled herself onto the sand and then sank down on her back, relishing the fact that she could relax.

She felt herself drift off to sleep and didn’t do anything to stop it. It felt far too soon when she felt someone shaking her awake. Grumpily, she opened her eyes. As her eyes focused, she realised there was a figure leaning over her. And as she focused some more, she realised she recognised him.

“Alec?” she said, her voice strained. She hadn’t realised how much she needed water until now.

“Mia! You’re alive!”

“So are you!”

She tried to sit up so she could embrace him, but her muscles were far too stiff, and she failed halfway up.

“Don’t try to move,” Alec said. “Here. I’ve got some water.”

“Is it safe?”

“Yes. It’s warm, but it does the trick.”

He held the flask to her lips and poured gently. She swallowed as much as she could before she started coughing. Alec put one arm behind her back and helped her sit up. She leaned over and spat out some of the water, along with any sea water that came up. When she had finished coughing, she turned back to Alec.

“Have you seen anyone else?”

He shook his head. “Not yet. Who knows where they got swept to?”

Mia looked around. “What are we going to do now?”

Alec followed her gaze. The island they had ended up on was barely more than a sandbank, with a few trees in the centre.

“I don’t know,” he said. “But we’ll think of something. We’re going to get home, Mia.”

“I hope you’re right,” she said.

“I know I am.”

December 14 – White Christmas

Author’s note: I didn’t like any of the prompts I generated today, so I just came up with something on my own. Another Christmas story, Yay! Sorry for any typos and such things, I wrote this on my tablet on the bus and I’m posting using shopping centre wifi before I head to a rehearsal for a Christmas play I’m helping out with next week.

“Pete! Pete! Wake up, wake up, wake up!”

Megan bounced onto the bed and shook her boyfriend. He groaned and pulled the duvet over his head. Megan immediately pulled it back again.

“Pete, it’s Christmas and it’s snowing! You told me I wouldn’t get to see snow on Christmas!”

Slowly, Pete opened his eyes halfway and stared out at Megan. “What?” he said when his brain finally managed to communicate with his mouth.

“Snowing!” Megan exclaimed again. “Come on, get your coat!”

Megan was already half dressed, and only needed to pull on another couple of top layers and her coat before she was ready. While Pete dragged himself out of bed and began getting dressed, she pulled her hair up into a ponytail that she then stuffed into a beanie.

A few minutes later, Peter found Megan by their front door, bouncing from foot to foot in anticipation.

“Haven’t you seen snow before, woman?” he asked, nodding towards the door to indicate he was ready and that they could go out.

“Where I come from, we start complaining about the cold when it hits ten degrees. Celsius.”

“Bloody Australians.”

The snow wasn’t very deep, but it was enough that Megan could mold snowballs in her hands and peg them at Pete. He was much adept at ducking them than she was, and she ended up with a few wet patches on her jumper where he managed to hit her. Other families, mostly children, were appearing in the their own front yards and joyful squeals abounded up and down the street.

Soon the cold was starting to seep through Megan’s several layers of clothing and her teeth were chattering. She squatted down long enough to make make a tiny snowman (his body was only four handfuls of snow) and stuck a twig in his head for a nose, then she and Pete headed back inside to begin getting ready for the rest of the day.

“Well, you got your snow, then,” Pete said, turning the heater on the crossing to the kettle to fill it up. “Do you actually need any other presents now?”

Megan grinned. “Not really,” she said. She moved closer to him and kissed him on the nose. “Merry Christmas.”

December 13 – Uh… whoops?

Author’s note: I had a couple of days where no matter what prompt I gave myself, no ideas were forthcoming. Which I think is at least partially due to an unfortunate habit I have of over-thinking and not just rolling with the prompt. Tonight was shaping up to be another, but I told myself I really ought to be not be lazy, and so I got on with it. Also, I don’t know where all these dark stories are coming from, I’m not that sort of person, really! This is another one where the opening line was the prompt.

~*~

Ricky hadn’t meant to scare him. Well, he sort of had, but how was he to know that Tom was holding a gun at the time? It was just a “Boo” over the shoulder. Now he was vaguely aware of Tom freaking out and trying to explain what had happened to the person on the other end of the emergency services line. Other people had run into the room to see what the noise was, and he could hear their voices as well, but his vision was dimming and their words were muffled. He wasn’t scared, though; somehow he’d detached himself from the whole situation and was wondering what the hell had made Tom so jittery. He supposed it would probably come to light eventually, but the last thing to go through his head was that he wasn’t likely to be the one to find out…

 

December 10 – Struck By Lightning

Author note: I wasn’t so keen on the prompt today, but I got there. I’m sorry I keep seeming to injure or kill people the last few days. Maybe I’ll perk up tomorrow. Also, disclaimer: no research was done on lightning strikes in the writing of this story.

Prompt: The main character is a materialistic 25-year-old man. The story begins in a penthouse. A sudden storm blows up. The theme of the story is risk-taking.

The storm came up suddenly. One second there had been blue sky and the next second the rain was bucket in down and the wind was howling. Christian had been pacing his apartment all day, waiting g for his brand new shipment of antique furniture to arrive. He had measured up his living room and decided on the best arrangement. All that was left was to actually put it there.

Not long after the storm blew up, he received a call from the courier to say they were on their way but they were going to be taking It slowly what with the rain that had just started. Christian sighed as he once again passed the window and looked out, attempting to see the courier van down below.

“Don’t you think you should call them and tell them to come back when the weather’s better?” asked his fiancee, Brooke,  who was sitting with her legs over one arm of the sofa.

“They’ll be practically here soon,” Christian snapped in reply. “Wherever they are, it’ll be easier for them to just keep coming at this point.”

“Won’t all your stuff get wet as they bring It up?”

“Don’t be ridiculous, it will all be covered in plastic. That sort of furniture would never be exposed to the elements like that during transportation.” His phone rang and he quickly answered it, putting the phone to his ear. “Yes?” He listened for a moment and then nodded. “Yes, I’ll be right down.” He disconnected the call. “They’re here. Finally.”

“Please tell me you’re meeting them in the foyer. You’re not going out in this weather, are you?”

“They’re not sure which apartment building it is,” Christian replied, slipping on his coat. “I said l’d go down and wave.”

“Well, if you catch your death, don’t blame me.”

A few minutes later, Christian was down in front of his apartment building, shielding his face from the rain as he looked for the white moving van. He could feel the wind trying to buffet him down the street, and took hold of a lamp post to keep his footing.

Too late, he realised what a bad idea that was in weather like this. Time seemed to slow down as Christian saw the lightning strike the top of the lamp, and soon after felt the jolt as the current moved through the metal and down his spine.

The next thing he knew, he woke up in a hospital room. Everything hurt, but he managed to turn his head enough to see Brooke sitting in the plastic chair near the window.

“Hey, you’re awake!” she exclaimed. “I’ll call for a doctor.” She kissed him on the forehead.

Christian grunted in reply. Something was praying on his mind, but he couldn’t put his finger on what it was. He lay there quietly while the doctor checked him over and gave him some painkillers . It was only after the doctor had gone and It was just him and Brooke again the he was finally able to figure out what was bothering him.

“Brooke,” he said. “Did my furniture arrive?”

December 2: A ghostly gambling ring

Author’s note: No, I am just as unsure as you about what three ghosts would actually do with the money they seem to be hoarding in this story. I didn’t think that far. I also apologise for the fact that the ending is a bit weak, but it’s getting late, and I wanted to get this one finished.

Prompt: Main character is a generous, forty-five-year-old man. The setting is a newspaper office. Someone loses a fortune at cards. The theme is the supernatural.

ghost“Hey, Jim, can I borrow ten bucks?”

Jim looked up from his typewriter, and tilted his head at Robbie, who was leaning on his desk. “Again? This is the third time this week, Robbie.”

“I know, mate, I know. I will pay it back, I guarantee you.”

“What are you using it for? I’m happy to help you out, but I hate to think my money is being wasted, Robbie…”

“Nothing untoward, I swear,” Robbie said quickly, his eyes darting around the room but not meeting Jim’s until they lit up with an idea. “Hey, why don’t you come and see for yourself? Tonight?”

“I have a deadline I have to meet,” said Jim, motioning back to his typewriter.

“It doesn’t start until nine. Will that give you enough time?”

“I guess so…”

“Great. I can meet you there.” Robbie waited until Jim had pulled out the ten dollar bill out of his wallet and handed it to him, then he put on his hat and coat and left the office, whistling an out-of-tune melody.

Jim spent another hour working on his piece, and then bought a bite to eat from a street vendor near the office. He didn’t really know whether to meet Robbie at whatever place he was going to tonight or not. He eventually decided to check it out; he’d been lending Robbie far too much this week and he was starting to about where it was going.

He got in a taxi and gave the address Robbie had given him earlier. When he got out a little while later, he was at the dingy end of a long street. He watched a men filed into the building, one after the other, staring blindly at whatever was beyond. Robbie appeared soon after, and though Jim waved, Robbie didn’t see him.

“Robbie?”

Robbie also wandered into the building, his expression becoming vacant as he caught sight of the light coming from inside.

Confused, Jim decided to follow. Inside was a large round table, around which the men were sitting. They all held cards in their hands and there was a pile of cash at one end of the table.

So Robbie was gambling away the money Jim had loaned him. He knew it!

The light Jim had seen from outside came from a candle in the middle of the table. It was giving off a heady scent which made Jim’s eyes water and numbed his senses. He wondered if that was what was blinding all the other men as well.

And then he watched longer, and saw what at first seemed to be mist pass under a doorway on the other side of the room. The mist began to rise, though, and slowly take shape. As Jim watched, three humanoid figures, but transparent, and fuzzy around the edges, took their place at the top of the table, where the pile of money was sitting.

One man at the table laid down a card, and the rest followed suit. Whatever they were playing, it didn’t seem to be any card game Jim was familiar with. They moved as though they were in a trance, each taking his turn. Sometimes cards were picked up, sometimes put down, but there didn’t seem to be any method in their movements.

After an hour or so of this, the ghosts disappeared and the spell seemed to break. The men all threw down their cards.

“Well, that’s me cleared!” said one man.

“Gah, bad night again!” said another.

They all bemoaned their bad luck as they stood up to leave. None of them seemed to notice that no one was leaving with any winnings.

Jim snuck out the door in front of them. He waited until Robbie came out and then grabbed his colleague by the arm.

“Robbie, what’s going on?”

“What? Oh, Jim… just a spot of fun between friends, that’s all…”

“Robbie, you were drugged… or something… didn’t you see them?”

“Who?”

“The ghosts. None of you were playing cards. It was… it was spooky, dammit.”

Robbie laughed and clapped Jim on the shoulder. “My friend, I think you’ve been worrying too much about that next deadline. Come on. Let’s get something to eat, yeah?”

Already, Jim was beginning to doubt what he saw. He nodded, and let Robbie guide him towards the main road. Tomorrow. He’d come back to tomorrow, and tomorrow he’d bring a camera.

December 1: The Isolated Prince

So apparently a month of NaNoWriMo isn’t enough to make me take a break from writing for a while, even though that was my grand plan. I’ve downloaded a few writing apps onto my tablet, and I’m going to try to make use of the prompts they give me throughout December. Here is the one I wrote today. Bear in mind, this is “as is”, might not make sense sometimes, and should be treated as a first draft of sorts.

Prompt: The main character is a 35-year-old man. The setting is a castle. There is an unexpected visitor. The theme is: the future.

islandHe watched the procession as it made its way up from the royal barge towards the doors of the house, and then turned away from the window. It had been a long time since he had had guests of any kind.

He waited for inevitable knock on his chamber door and then stood half-heartedly.

“Thomas? Sir, it’s –”

“Yes, I know. Tell her I’m coming.”

“Of course.” Pulling his coat tighter around himself, he stepped out of his bedroom and made his way to the room he’d dubbed the drawing room, where his guests would be waiting.

A woman stood up as he entered the room. “Thomas!” she exclaimed, making a move towards him as though about to embrace him, but stopping when she saw how stiffly he stood in the doorway and how coldly he was staring at her.

“Hello, Mother,” he said, his voice low.

“Thomas, your brother is dead.”

Thomas looked away. Of course Mathieu was dead. There was no other reason she would be here now.

“My condolences.”

“Thomas, he left no children. You need to come home, we need you. Your country needs you!” She paused, and for the first time, there as uncertainty in her eyes. “You do… want to come home, don’t you?”

Thomas was quiet a long time. “My country needs me?” he said finally. “You need me?”

“Thomas…”

“Where was my country when my brother drugged me and carted me off to this godforsaken island? Where were you when I was cut off from the world for seventeen years?

It had been the day after his eighteenth birthday. His older brother was acutely aware that the next in line to the throne after him had now come of age, and had become intensely paranoid. He had Thomas, along with two servants, drugged and transported to an island well off the coast of their country. It was too far to swim back, and while supplies were shipped frequently, Mathieu had always been sure to keep their arrivals irregular. With only three of them there, it had been impossible to always be watching, and the island held no materials suitable for making anything to get back to the mainland.

“Thomas, I… he would not even tell me where you were. I had no idea. It was only when he was dying…” His mother’s eyes were imploring.

For a moment, Thomas was tempted to tell his mother to turn around and leave him there. But he could not do that to the two men who had served him over the past seventeen years. Their time in isolation meant that they had become more like brothers, even though they would never be viewed that way once they returned home. Nevertheless, they both had families who would no doubt be wondering where they had gone, and they deserved to be reunited with them.

He turned back to his mother, his eyes dark. “I will return with you,” he said. “But that place is not my home. I will not rule it.” He held his hand up to silence his mother before she could argue. “I will help to establish a system wherein I am not required. And then, it is most likely I will leave again. I will not come back here, and perhaps now and then, I will come back to you for short periods, but I have no intention of staying somewhere where my every move will be watched, where I will have no say over my own movements. Being here has taught me I prefer to be alone.”

“But Thomas, once you have been home for a while, perhaps you’ll start to see…”

“No, Mother.” He could see the hurt in her eyes, and a small part of him wanted to take back everything. However, he knew he would only regret it later. “I’m sorry. But if you want me to leave this place at all, then this is how it must be.”

He saw his mother’s expression begin to match the coldness in his. “Very well, then,” she said, pushing past him into the hallway. “Let’s go then, shall we?” She swept back towards the door, her entourage following.

Thomas motioned for his two companions to follow and he brought up the rear. He walked much slower than everyone else. When he reached the boat moored at the water’s edge, he turned back and looked at the small stone house that had been his only home for seventeen years. And then he made his way down onto his mother’s barge, returning, at least for a while, to a life he had never wanted to be a part of in the first place.

#StoryADay Day 15 – Something light and fluffy

2013StADaBadge500x230

Teleport trips are still pretty expensive, and still a little bit dangerous, but sometimes, she reasons, you’ve just got to take that risk. There’s only so much you can convey in a video call; only so much you can say in a comment on a blog post. She could take a plane but she’s been scared of flying since she was a kid, and besides, it takes so long that way.

She’s frisked, her passport is stamped, and then she’s lying on a table ready to go. They’re getting to the stage where they’re fairly sure it somehow doesn’t actually cause the body any pain to be split up into its atoms and put together again somewhere else, but  they still  like to knock out the clients just in case.

Next thing she knows, she’s being shaken awake. She’s feeling a bit dazed, but his face is there and he’s somehow, however impossibly, more handsome in the flesh. As the travel doctors sit her up, he hands her a cup of coffee made exactly how she likes it. She mentioned that in a blog comment one time. He remembers. She smiles.

Half an hour later they’ve decided she’s suffered no ill effects and she is allowed to head off. They walk out into the street arm-in-arm. He takes her to places he’s told her about, to a little museum off the beaten track and an award-winning coffee house near his own place.

Once the sun sets, they lie in the grass in a nearby park, heads together, and watch the stars. He can point out constellations she’s never even seen before due to being in the wrong hemisphere. They grab a late dinner, and then back at his place, just curl up on his bed, not even kissing, just happy enough being in each other’s arms for the first time.

The next morning arrives far too quickly and it’s time for her to leave again. They have breakfast in bed and then it’s time to go back to the teleport centre. He kisses her before she heads into the waiting room, and oh, how she wishes she could just stay there forever, but alas, it’s not to be. Soon her name is called, and she’s lying on the table again.

When they talk online again that night, he promises that next time he will visit her. The thought makes her giddy with anticipation. She just hopes she doesn’t have to wait too long.

~*~

I decided today was a day for a bit of pure and simple romance. Relationships that start online are becoming less and less strange, so I figure by the time we have teleports, this sort of thing is totally plausible.