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A Trick of the Eye (Writing Prompts)

Writing Challenges Writing Prompts

One thing I've learned from writing small – wonderful surprises can lurk round the corner, like linguistic sharks ready to bite with their brilliance.

Writing prompts & challenges: A trick of the eye

So it goes this week, and I've found it necessary to go to the Twitter of several of last week's writers and SHOUT AT THEM. It's a justified response to delight and surprise, I feel, and if not I have done it all the same.

I hope you join the writers one of these times, I really do. I like shouting nice things and I'm anxiously wanting to shout them at you.

Spoilers, Surprises, Stories That Thrill

In answer to the get up now writing challenge last week – I really encourage you to go read them all – may I present wee snippets from the fuller stories shared? I may.

Get up. C’mon, on your feet. The house is burning… It’s a nice home, all things considered. It’s worth saving. As are most of its occupants—seven and a half billion, give or take. Plus the countless non-human denizens, too.
So, yeah. It’s on you, on all of us. And time is running out.
Get up now.
“Darling.” Callie frowned and shook her head as if to clear it as she thought. “Are there… No. Of course there are. Darling, how many subroutines have you written for yourself?”
The first few bars of the prelude of Bach’s first cello concerto grace the air before Callie yells.
“One thousand, two hundred and fifty four.”
Robbi never got to Bright or Öpik, instead she found herself on Palace, prospecting on one of the planets gem mountains. If a sentient was tough enough, they could make their fortune on the steep sides of one of those arid peaks and she was double tough.
Funny it took her so long to realise that, for a sentient who needed little oxygen, she damn well couldn’t breathe.
One thing she’s grateful for: she got rich before she fell.
Someone is kneeling before me, their face swimming into view, blurred and out of focus. I feel like I have seen the man before.
I think I might be dying and maybe the man needs to know.
“I think I’m dying.”
“Seriously, Kyle, you ridiculous drama llama. You had one beer and were in bed by 11:30. Class starts in 45 minutes. Get up!”
“What if the kids make fun of me?” Kel stepped into the coverall and zipped up the front.
“Why in stars would they do that?” Ell’a was holding out a pair of shoes for Kel.
“I dunno… because I’m an orphan? Because I’m half Miralan and I’m all green?” Kel took the shoes and put them on.
Ell’a put her arm around her granddaughter, “You think you’re the first orphan to go to school here on Yavin? Sadly, not even close. And so what if you’re half Miralan. And all green? You’re all perfect just as you are.”
Warm sleeping bag snuggles. Unzipping the tent, reveling in the green, the crispness of the air, the mist on the water of the lake. It’s time to get up now, but. Lingering. Existing. Breathing. Treasuring.
“Get up now, the days a-wasting!”
He threw the blanket over his eyes, the flashlight beam seemed to drill directly until his head.
“Get up now. The boat’s gonna leave without you.”
She took his hand, and kicked as he pulled. Together they maneuvered her over the side.
“Get up now, you don’t want to miss this. The ladder is over there.”

As ever, it's your turn now. What do you say?

Get Up Now
Broken by Kindness
Falling Ashes…

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  • Atlin Merrick on

    It’s a trick of the eye. Or brain. Or I’m just too dim. I don’t know. What I do know is first thing in the morning, before the quiet coffee and the loud cereal wake me up enough, I glance up at Felicity — her anglicised name, her birth name sounds like the sound I made when that asshole kid up the road punched me in the stomach when I was five — anyway, I glance up and my brain always says, “Holy shit a seven foot tall sponge!” and then a couple neurons do the things I pay them for with coffee and loud cereal and I realise my colleague is in fact from Akand, knows fifty languages, has been in space longer than I’ve been alive. Looking like a sponge does not, in fact, make you a sponge.

    “Hey, coffee’s hot.” I always get that out fast because Fel accidentally (she said) punched that visiting colonel in the stomach that time he was blocking the coffee machine. I followed up with the bad news. “So, we’ve been switched from doing the EVA on the aft solar cells. Uh, we have to take that weird ass general on a tour of the—JEEZUS FEL!”

    Okay, yeah, Felicity does know fifty languages and has done more space walks than I have hair, and she’s not technically a sponge but if you’re moderately tired I promise you would get confused too, working with a life form that can upend an entire coffee pot over her head, absorbing every single drop.


  • Kaz Langston on

    “Fuck off!”
    It’s driving Sarah mad. Little flickers out of the corner of her eye, sparkles like dew in the morning, catching her unaware.
    It’s not Mads. It’s not, because Mads is two months dead and there’s nothing here but her and the damn cat, and she can hear him stuffing his face with biscuits in the kitchen.
    “Pull yourself together. Come on.”
    And there it is again, and in a frustrated whirl she throws out a fistful of sparks towards the little glimmer.
    She snatches them back, of course, no use setting the curtains on fire, but there’s something there in the light of her irritated casting that gives her pause, heart in her throat.
    “Mads? Maddy?”
    It’s nothing, now she’s looking at it head on, a trick of the light, where the lamp light catches the edge of the window. But…
    More careful now, she lifts her hand, a bundle of heatless fire gathered, energy made visible, and with an easy push of will sends it towards the corner.
    The shadow coalesces, just a little, as her sparks catch its edges. The hint of mist becoming more like fog.
    Sarah sits down with a thud.
    A brush of softness at one wrist and she yells, but it’s only Ralph. He brushes against her approvingly, then heads to the corner where the pale grey shadow stands the height of a person, twining about where its legs might be, if it had them.
    “Mads,” Sarah croaks out, and sends another burst of sparks, and the grey darkens and then there’s something that might be a hint of blue eyes, and she bends over and cries, curled over her knees.
    Ralph’s gone when she looks up, but Maddy isn’t.

  • hardboiledbaby on

    Don’t be fooled. Heat shimmers are meant to trick the eye. They make you think there is water and shade and rest, blessed rest. That smudge on the horizon, that vague outline of maybe-walls and could-be-buildings? A sign of life, a reason for hope?

    Just a mirage, my friend. Wipe the sweat off from your face, blink away the burn. You’ll see, soon enough, there is nothing there. Nothing but miles of wasteland between where you are and anywhere else. Nothing but a mocking orange sun shining on you from a cloudless sky, bright and unrelenting.

    Nothing to do but to keep walking, because the only alternative is to stop. Stop walking, stop moving, stop… being.

    The cruelest of dreams, this.

    Ah, but no doubt it will end soon. You will awaken, and this horrible nightmare will all be over.

    Soon. Any minute now, surely.

    But in the meantime—keep walking.

  • Cello on

    The light feels autumnal, falling through the window. Blink.

    Echoing out from the residence halls of memory, the sounds of Pink Floyd wishing you were here, asking you to shine on, you crazy diamond. Leaves turning, falling, foggy mornings, brisk walks to overheated classrooms.

    Blink. A trick of the eye, early morning late summer light.

  • Pennygirl612 on


    “You should get your shine on,” he tells me.

    Instantly, I envision a near empty hotel deep in the Colorado mountains in the heart of winter. I picture a set of twin girls, a bartender, a cook, a wannabe writer and his poor wife and child.

    “You know what I mean?” he asks, interrupting my thoughts. I get the feeling I’m not being attentive enough for his liking. I make a mental note to include a few more enthusiastic head nods and throw in an occasional ‘that’s interesting’ to our thus far one-sided conversation.

    And yes, I know what he means, but the little shit in me feigns ignorance as I stir the fruity little cocktail that he ordered without my input. The drink is sugary and devoid of much real alcohol. I have the distinct impression it says a lot about how he likes his women: sweet and without substance.

    Had he bothered to ask me what I wanted I’d be sipping a nice bourbon. Neat. No ice. No need to water down the oaky, cherry flavor. I have always relished the burn, welcomed the fire in the pit of my stomach. It was the second-best thing to make me feel alive.

    At this moment, I’m feeling anything but alive. I’m practically comatose so bored from listening to him ramble on and on about whatever the hell it is he’s talking about. Thank God he’s provided me with a way to entertain myself as I start thinking of quotes from the famous movie. I wonder how many I can remember and if the opportunity might present itself for a possible re-enactment.

    Danny isn’t here, Mrs. Torrance. (One.)

    Taking a pull from his beer, my date frowns, eyes narrowing. “You don’t look like your picture.”

    Danny has gone away. (Two.)

    “Sorry,” I mutter while pulling the hair tie away, letting my long, dark hair flow loosely over my slender shoulders. His frown magically turns upside down because now I’m the perfect match to the profile picture of the fictitious Angela Martin.

    Come play with us, Danny. (Three.)

    Smiling, I choose that moment to bat my eyes and watch as he melts into a puddle at my feet. I can read his mind. He thinks things are back on track. He thinks soon he’ll be in the bathroom stall or his car fucking me from behind like a dog. He’ll take his pleasure and assume it’s fine if I don’t get mine. Little does he realize I refuse to be left unsatisfied.

    Making sure I have his undivided attention, I pick a cherry from my drink, pop it into my mouth, and gently pull it away from the stem. The effect on my date is predictable as he squirms a little on the bar stool suddenly feeling the need to relieve some pressure. Yes, indeed, I can entertain myself.

    Wendy, you’ve got a big surprise coming to you. (Four.)

    “Is that better?” I ask softly while tossing my hair over a shoulder. I think of his own picture posted on the internet dating site, but I don’t mention the fact that his photo is at least 10 years old, pre 20 extra pounds in his midsection, and before becoming follicle challenged.

    Some places are like people: some shine and some don’t. (Five.)

    “Mmhhh, much,” he says, incapable of hiding the lust in his brown, near shit-colored eyes. I force myself to remain still as one hand tucks a stray lock behind my ear while the other moves further up my inner thigh. I lean in and whisper into his ear that we should take things back to his car. He downs the beer and stands from the bar stool, swaying slightly. I confess to being a tad disappointed. I would have thought a man of his size could better handle his alcohol. Then again, the pale circle around his left ring finger hints at the likelihood he doesn’t get out much. Which reminded me…

    Women. Can’t live with them, can’t live without them. (Six.)

    At his car, or should I say his soccer mom style minivan, he turns me around so that my back is against the passenger door. I close my eyes and see waves of blood pouring into the hallways of the hotel. I see Danny on his Big Wheel trying to outrace the blood.

    Heeere’s Johnny. (Seven.)

    “Angela, what are you thinking?’ he asks, his lips hovering over mine as he presses me harder against car.

    What am I thinking?

    Redrum. Redrum! (Eight.)

    And I’m thinking about Mr. Grady and how he would have described me as a ‘naughty’ girl who needed ‘a good talking to.’ Grady would have told my date exactly how he would have ‘corrected’ me. (Nine, ten, and eleven. Damn, I’m on a role!)

    I look at Will…or was his name Bill? Hell, who cares! “I’m thinking ‘I’m not going to hurt you,’ Will.” (Twelve.)

    “My name’s Bill,” he instantly corrected, clearly missing the important part of what I had just said.

    I smile and amend my statement. “I’m not going to hurt you, Bill.”

    A look of confusion crosses his face. “Uh, okay.”

    I put a hand between us, slightly pushing Bill away so I can better reach into my rather large handbag. Its large because a girl never knows what she’s going to need on a good date, and this one was quickly shaping up to be a particularly pleasurable one. I rummage around for a moment before my hand locks in on what I want. Bill’s look of confusion grows when I pull out the ball peen hammer. Okay, it wasn’t the same as Jack’s baseball bat or the ax, but in the right hands -in my hands- the ball peen can be used quite effectively.

    “I’m not going to hurt you, Bill,” I repeat. “I’m just going to bash your brains in.”

    Thirteen. I had come up with thirteen quotes! And I can’t stop smiling. I’m practically giddy that this opportunity has presented itself and in this fashion. I really must do this again. I must pick another movie and incorporate it into my next kill. Maybe A Few Good Men…

    “Are you quoting Stephen King?” Bill asks with a puzzled look.

    I nod, astonished at Bill’s ability to keep focusing on the exact wrong things though a little impressed he recognized the line. “It was your idea,” I tell him. “You told me to get my shine on.”

    “Stephen King wrote The Shining.”

    I pause. Damn. Stupid Bill is right. Oh well, I think as I raise the hammer. Shining. Shine on. It’s all the same to a girl just looking to even the playing field. Why should boys have all the fun? Besides…

    All work and no play makes Jane a dull girl.

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