11. Writing Prompt – He Was Selling Ice Cream When…

He was selling ice cream when the alarm sounded. A flood of beach-goers surged across the white sand as they hurried to their homes, the air filling with the cries of anxious mothers and urging officials. The city slowly trickled into the mountains while he repacked his freezer cart, locking it up tightly. The beach was bare and silent now, flecked only with forgotten towels and stranded umbrellas. The heat of the sliding sand soothed his aching feet as he trudged toward the surf. These were the sands where he had met his wife. The few coins he had in his pocket, traded from salt-flecked and sun-drenched swimmers for a dripping cone or popsicle, were all he had to his name. Their home, their meager belongings, all they owned, had been sacrificed for a few more moments with her. The waves where he had scattered her ashes tugged at his ankles as they shyly slid away, exposing soft mud. A low roar built on the horizon as he lowered himself onto a bench with a sigh. He was enjoying an ice cream when the wave hit.


My week is a little hectic until Friday, so we’re back to micro-fiction for a few days. I apologize that I am apparently incapable of writing a happy ending… I’ll keep working on that.

Did you enjoy all the water descriptors I threw in?!

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10. Writing Prompt – It Seemed Like a Threat

Her shift at the all-night diner had run late, and it was well past midnight when she finally yanked off her apron and jogged down the steps into the shadowy streets. The reflection from the neon sign on the side of the thin metal building wavered wildly on the damp pavement underneath her feet and threw ghastly shadows of the single car parked in the lot in front of the diner. The buses had stopped running hours ago, and she trudged through the darkness toward her apartment on the other side of town. She was halfway home when someone grabbed her arm and dragged her into an alley. She struggled wildly, trying to reach the pepper spray in her back pocket, but her assaulter slammed her against the wall, clamping a hand over her mouth.

“Be quiet and keep still,” he hissed, his face inches from hers.

Terrified of the alternative, she obeyed. She waited for his next command, but his eyes were fixed on the dark street she had just been yanked from. His words seemed like a threat until she saw two shadowy figures pass by the mouth of the alley. They stopped and looked around before splitting up, one crossing the street and the other continuing on ahead. She had been alone in the darkness, or so she had thought. These dark figures seemed to be looking for something, and she had a sickening feeling it was her.

“They’ll be back,” her abductor whispered, dropping his hand from her mouth. “We need to go.”

She yanked her pepper spray out of her pocket and pointed it at him with a shaking hand, demanding, “Who the hell are you?!”

“Keep your voice down!” he hissed. “We don’t have time for this.”

One of the shadowy figures reappeared in the mouth of the alley and spotting them, letting out an unintelligible cry for their companion before sprinting toward them. She found herself being dragged down the alley by her rescuer or kidnapper, she wasn’t sure which. Their feet pounded on the damp pavement as they burst out of the alley and sprinted down the street, two dark figures racing along behind. The man grabbed her hand in a vice-like grip and dragged her through a dizzying maze of streets and alleys, doubling back on themselves until they finally stopped in the middle of an empty street.

Fog was descending, and the air was heavy with moisture. The street was lined with shops, faint lights glowing within, but the signs in the windows were darkened for the night. He yanked on the doors as they passed, but they were all locked tight. She glanced anxiously behind them, but the dark figures had disappeared.

“Looks like we lost them,” she panted, out of breath. “Now tell me what the hell is going on!”

“No such luck, I’m afraid,” he laughed bitterly, tugging uselessly at a café door. “They’ll catch up. They always do.”

“Who?! What do they want from me?!” she asked, terror clutching at her throat.

“You were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Take a taxi next time!”

He straightened up and stared into the shadowy street, alerted by something she couldn’t hear, before grabbing her and dragging her into an alley. He shoved her down behind a clump of garbage cans and crouched next to her. The sound of claws scraping on cement approached then paused, and a guttural sniffing filled the air. Her heart was pounding so loudly, she swore it echoed off the damp brick wall her back was pressed against. Her companion lifted a finger to his lips, and she nodded, swallowing hard. Deafening silence fell, pulsing in her eardrums, until the scrapping of claws resumed, slowly receding down the street.

“Who are you?” she whispered when she was finally sure they were alone.

“I’m…like you. Somebody with the worst luck imaginable,” he sighed, pressing his back to the edge of the alley to gaze around the corner into the street. “I was all cozy in the diner, safely out of the dark for the night when I saw them hunting you. You really should have taken a taxi.”

“You followed me from the diner?!” she exclaimed angrily. “Wait… What do you mean hunting?”

A shrill cry rang out down the street.

“Time to go,” he yelled, grabbing her hand. They sprinted out into the street on the other side of the row buildings they had hidden against.

“There!” he yelled, pointing at a bus stop illuminated by a single streetlight, and they darted toward it. The two black figures burst out of the alley behind them, skidding on the wet pavement, claws scratching. She tried to keep running, but the man yanked her hand, and they slid to a stop in the circle of light pooling beneath the streetlight. He grinned as the shadowy figures prowled along the edge, hissing at them. She stared in horror as the grotesque human forms tilted their heads unnaturally, hissing to reveal darker maws within the wavering black forms, gnarled fingers of darkness clawing at the edge of the light.

“What…. What are they?” she asked, trembling.

“Harmless,” he laughed. “As long as the light shines.”

He settled on the ground, resting his back against the lamppost.

“Might as well get comfortable,” he sighed, lacing his fingers behind his head. “We’re going to be here a while.”

She extended a trembling hand still clutching her pepper spray toward the black figures.

“That’s not going to do you any good,” he commented. “It won’t hurt them. Nothing does.”

She dropped her arm to her side, still gripping the can tightly. The figures had stopped clawing and crouched at the edge of the circle of light, black holes where eyes should be fixed on the two figures in the lamplight.

“What do they want?”

“I don’t know,” he sighed. “They’ve been hunting me for weeks. Waiting in the dark, the shadows, everywhere I go. I guess they got my scent, and they aren’t giving up.”

The night was silent except for the clicking of a flashing traffic light down the street, its pulse throwing yellow stains across the wet pavement. The fog slowly thickened and settled over the town until the buildings were obscured by its pale mask. The light above them began to flicker as the bulb protested the moisture that had enveloped it. He stared up at it.

“Oh sh—“

The light flickered out, and darkness fell. There was an unearthly shriek then silence as the light flickered back on, revealing empty sidewalk and a spinning can of pepper spray.


I had two goals for this prompt. First, I wanted to try a different style; something more serious or dark. I hadn’t attempted horror before. I’m not sure how frightening it ended up being, but I’ll keep working on it. Second, I wanted to write something longer. Most of the competitions/writing submissions I’ve seen require a minimum of 1,000 words. My previous prompts have mostly been micro-fiction. Ultimately I would like to submit some of these, so I need to increase the length of my stories.

I tried to create a very vivid picture of the scene: dark streets, wet pavement, the lights shining on the damp concrete, and the settling fog. How effective did you find it? Is there anything I could improve?

More soon.

Sunday Reflections

It’s been almost three weeks since I started this blog! Make sure to check out the link below to read my very first writing prompt response about bread.

https://inthewritingstudio.wordpress.com/2020/01/28/01-writing-prompt-bread/

I’ve learned so much in the past few weeks working on these posts. Initially, my brain felt like mush. Coming up with things to write isn’t difficult. Creating a coherent and complete story from a pre-determined prompt with only a few hours to write and edit? More difficult, especially in the midst of everything else during a typical week, but I’m gradually feeling more ‘in shape.’ Like any other form of exercise, you have to get the muscle moving and keep working it to feel the results.

One of the most important things I’ve learned is to embrace what comes out…even if I hate it. There’s always something to be learned. I re-read one of my drafts this week and realized it was horrible. After the tens of hours I spent writing and editing, it was discouraging, but if I can see the problems then I can fix them. Being able to read objectively after a few weeks away from it prepared me to tackle it again and shape it into what it needs to be.

Another lesson I’ve learned is that the real work happens after the story is written. Enough cannot be said to stress the importance of proofreading and editing, especially cutting unnecessary words or scenes. Be creative during the first draft, ruthless during the second.

The more I write, the more I thoroughly enjoy it. There’s something so fulfilling about crafting a complete story, breathing life into a tiny microcosm, and sending it out into the world. Thank you for joining me on that journey, and I look forward to seeing where this road leads us!

Upcoming Plans:

I am working on a serialized story that I will be releasing over 4 weeks, so watch for that in March!

More soon.

09. Writing Prompt – Cornered & Alone

Cornered and alone, I was running out of options. I had tried to avoid this, keeping my eyes on the ground and quickening my strides, but she stepped in the path ahead of me, a look in her eyes that told me she meant business. I whimpered softly, biting back my panic, and reached for my cell phone to fake a call, hoping that the pretense of human interaction would scare her away, but she stayed firmly rooted in front of me, and I found myself wedged between her and a solid brick wall. Finally running out of words for my one-sided conversation, I hung up with a “see you soon,” hoping it was true. I shoved my phone back in my pocket, tears threatening me, and looked up at her with pleading eyes, begging her not to do this. That’s when she spoke those dreaded words, those words sealing my fate.

“Excuse me, ma’am. Do you have a moment to look at this petition?”


Sometimes these prompts are a struggle, and sometimes they write themselves. This was one case where I knew the story as soon as I saw the prompt and had a good laugh while writing it. I have lived this situation more times than I would like. Anyone else dread these forced social interactions, or is it just me?

Looking back at my posts from the past few weeks, it’s clear I enjoy irony and attempting to manipulate expectations. While there’s nothing wrong with that, it might become predictable if done every time, so I hope to vary my styles even more going forward. That just goes to show how useful this exercise is for unearthing the patterns and weaknesses in my writing. For example, I use the word ‘got’ WAY TOO MUCH!

My good news for today: I hit 59,000 words in my draft!

As always, comments and critiques are welcomed.

Happy Saturday!

08. Writing Prompt – No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

I was window-shopping when I noticed him standing in the rain-drenched street, intently staring at the screen in his hand. He was frowning down at it and periodically gazing around, too distracted to notice the oversized public transport barreling toward him. Most drivers prefer to use the above-ground transit systems since the city streets are rather confining for aerial vehicles, but occasionally larger vehicles are diverted here to alleviate congestion in the skyways.

I quickly cancelled out my transaction half-entered on the shop window kiosk and sprinted into the street, tackling him to throw us both out of harm’s way. We landed in a heap in the gutter, rolling to a stop in the middle of an unfortunately large puddle. He sat up, anger on his face, until the transport roared past us. His expression quickly changed to shock, and he stared down the street after it.

“Thank you,” he told me, gratefulness clear in his voice as he pulled us both to our feet. “Clearly I need to watch where I’m going.”

We both shook ourselves trying to fling the water that was clinging to our skin back into the street, and I agreed wholeheartedly with him, my excitement of saving a life momentarily dampened by the state of my clothing.

“What were you doing anyway?” I demanded, wondering what had been so riveting on that screen of his.

“Looking for someone. They are supposed to be here somewhere, but these concrete buildings are interfering with my tracking system.”

I had passed down this street often and apparently still in the gracious mood, quickly offered to help.

“That would be wonderful,” he admitted, turning back to his screen miraculously unharmed from our tumble and recited the name to me.

“That’s me!” I exclaimed, shocked and amazed at our serendipitous meeting. “Why were you looking for me?!”

He looked shocked as well, staring down at his screen before shoving it into his pocket. He glanced around at the streets before asking me if any more transports would be passing this way. Annoyed that he had ignored my question but empathizing with his shock at finding himself almost dead, I told him based on the density of aerial vehicles filling the sky above us, another would probably be passing by in the next few minutes.

“Most fortuitous,” he muttered to himself, and I had to agree. I don’t usually trek out of my living quarters on a rainy day, but the small room had felt stifling. Except for us, the streets were empty, and he undoubtedly would have found himself flattened on the road if I hadn’t been distracted by the flashing displays in the shop window and decided to stop.

“I suppose it’s time I tell you why I was looking for you,” he admitted.

I agreed that would be appreciated, though our interactions had been a refreshing break in my day.

“You see…” he began, turning to me with a grave expression. “I was sent to find you, and failing to do so would have been very…unfortunate for me. Now that we’ve met, I admit a certain reluctance, but consequences will be consequences, and I’d rather not be the one to suffer them.”

“What are you talking about?” I questioned, even more confused now than before he started talking.

“I was sent to kill you,” he concluded, shoving me into the path of a passing transport.


It’s been a terrible week for writing prompts. Thankfully I was able to get some work done on my other drafts, so I will count that as a win. Hopefully next week is better for getting more of these short stories out.

I finished reading The Children of Hurin (Tolkien). Wow… That book was heartbreaking and uncharacteristically emotional for Tolkien. I will hopefully be posting a response to it soon. Now I’m reading The Left Hand of Darkness (Le Guin). Her descriptions are infuriatingly good! She packs so much atmosphere into just a few words. It’s definitely work reading just for that.

Shout out to my amazing husband who got me an iPad for Valentine’s Day. I’m posting with it right now, and I love it.

07. Writing Prompt – Stuck in a Lift

Ah, the dreaded dialogue! Today’s prompt was to write about two people stuck in a lift (aka a non-American elevator) using dialogue only.


“Damn this bloody lift,” he growled, mashing the flashing button.

“I don’t think that’s going to help,” she laughed. “I’m sure they’ll get it moving soon. Where were you headed?”

“Fourth floor.”

“Same!” she exclaimed. “Do you work here?”

“No, I was on my way to see the person who turned down my insurance claim.”

“Oh, that’s rough. I work in claims. Maybe I can help,” she offered.

“Not unless you want to help me throw somebody out a window,” he ranted. “They’re apparently ducking my emails and phone calls. Told me five calls a day was harassment. Called me infantile. I’ll show them infantile!”

“I–“

“You know, I can’t believe the nerve of some people! I fully intend to give that spineless piece of human waste a piece of my mind.”

“Really? Then perhaps I should introduce myself,” she muttered, extending a hand. “I’m the spineless piece of human waste who turned down your claim.”

“Well, this is awkward,” he sighed, and they both retreated into a tense silence.

“Hopefully they, uh…get it moving soon,” he added, nervously clearing his throat.

She grunted in reply.

“Since we’re here,” he began. “Would you reconsider–“

“Not a chance,” she snapped. “And for the record, flooding your house so your goldfish can roam doesn’t count as accidental damage.”


Happy Saturday! I’m off to work on some of my other projects. More soon!