Improbable Press
Cart 0

Behind You Is… (Writing Prompts)

Writing Challenge Writing Prompts

Behind You Is… (writing challenge)

We're back!



And do you want to know why?

Why we're going to start posting prompts again?

Because I missed you.

I missed your stories. Your wonderful, amazing, ridiculous, funny, sad stories. Every single one of you told tales I couldn't wait to read and I'm going to ask you to do it again.

Shall we begin?

Royalties and Who’s Out to Get You
White Knights (Writing Prompts)
Escape the Maze (Writing Prompts)

Older Post Newer Post

  • The Honeyed Moon on

    “Kel, my fearless girl, nothing will stand in your way. I know you, I know how you get when you want something.”

    It was nearly midnight, and Kel and her grandmother were standing outside under a canopy of stars so bright and clear, Kel felt she could reach up and pluck one from the sky, like a ripe piece of fruit from a tree.

    Tomorrow she will be sixteen years old, that age when you’re standing on the edge of your future, and wondering what it holds.

    As if reading her thoughts, her grandmother continued, “Your future is out there,” she raised her arm and drew an arc in the air, “Up there. You’re just not built to stay in one place. At least not yet.”

    She took one of Kel’s hands in both of hers; they were rough hands, callused and crisscrossed with scars from years of work. “Behind you is the past. Ahead of you is your whole future. Adventures, new worlds, new friends. New family. Love.” She kissed her granddaughter’s hand, “Your thirst for the ‘out there’ and the ‘what’s next’ will lead you there. Happy birthday, my brave girl.”

  • Kaz Langston on

    I haven’t quite got as far as I’d planned / hoped with this, but my limited horror experience is showing! Still – here’s a start, mostly inspired by “behind you is…”. Thanks for the prompt! <3

    Youtube video – “The big day!!!” #Sailing #Yachting #Week1
    An attractive young couple, an olive-skinned woman with dark hair, neatly braided over one shoulder, and a white, freckled man with close-cropped light brown hair, sit next to each other on a narrow bench behind a small table. They both look excited, and a little nervous.
    “Hi guys! You’ve been following us for a while now while we prep our boat, and we can’t believe it’s finally the big day – we’re waving goodbye to Southampton and hello to the next year of our lives! We’re going to travel the Med for a bit, get our sea legs, then after a few months we’ll cross the Atlantic and head to America.”
    It’s obvious they’re keen to crack on – there’s a little more about subscribing before they sign off with a cheery wave.
    Likes: 278
    Comments: 3

    Youtube video – “Spain!” #Sailing #Yachting #Week2
    A young woman holds the wheel, a pair of sunglasses hiding her eyes, and points towards a thin line on the horizon. “That’s Spain! At last. We’ve had a couple of nasty nights crossing the Bay of Biscay – poor Matt was caught both times, while I had a great rest.” There’s a rude noise from behind the camera, and she laughs. “Sorry babe.”
    The footage of the night sailing is shaky, the reduced quality of a forehead Go Pro in bad lighting. High waves, and a wind that has the sails creaking, hands coming into shot as he tugs the flapping canvas into a reef to depower the sail. The video cuts to a selfie of Matt, rain-drenched and sputtering. “Sally’s fast asleep, I’ve just about got a handle on this.” There’s a sudden fresh splatter of rain and he curses, and the camera drops and goes black.
    Sally’s voice speaks over the sound of the wind and rain. “This is where Matt realised he has to practice his knots! The sail came loose and knocked off the GoPro and his head torch, but he managed to get it sorted.”
    The next shot is of Matt, bags under his eyes, peering down through the cabin door with morning light behind him. “Coffee? Please?” The camera shakes with Sally’s laugh.
    Likes: 391
    Comments: 5
    > Skipper_Rob: Thought I taught you better than that!
    >> SallyMattSailing: Mate, I’ve got no idea how I cocked that up. I’ve reefed a hundred times and it’s never come loose before.

    Youtube video – “Bilbao and FOOD” #Sailing #Yachting #Week3
    Likes: 712
    Comments: 15
    > StarryEyed77: Are you going to introduce your shipmate? Or are we all just politely pretending she’s not there?
    >> SallyMattSailing: Not sure what you mean? There’s only the two of us on board.
    >>> StarryEyed77: Lol ok

  • Caroline on

    I’m lost. I stop, try to look at the map on my phone but no signal means I’m where I already knew I was, but now I’m surrounded by great swathes of grey, not the luscious countryside I can actually see. I’m on 2 percent battery. Soon the phone, like seemingly everyone else around here, will be dead.

    So, in front of me? Fuck knows. Behind me is The Rabbit.

    It’s been following me for miles, and those miles feel like they’ve taken weeks, but it’s been two days. I’m still not sure where I’m walking to. I’m noping for a named place because named places have pubs or post offices or something…Logic says there must be someone there because I haven’t seen anyone, anyone alive anyway, since I got the text.

    Right now, I’m in a farm field. The grass has been cut, left to turn to hay but I doubt anyone will ever bale it. I’ve learned, in my time as an apocalyptic refugee, to travel across them because I can see the undead from further away but also because I’m hoping some apex predator will see the fucking rabbit and just carry it off, so I don’t have to think about it being there when I turn around, twitching its nose at me.

    Before the phone gives up completely, I open the last text I received. “You need to come home, babe. Something is happening.” The little tick next to my reply shows it was delivered but never read. I can see the helicopters are now dodging plumes of smoke like gnats. I tell myself the watery eyes are hay-fever from the drying grass, tuck the phone back in my backpack.

    “I just want to have some time alone,” I’d said, packing my stupidly flimsy tent and enough knickers to cover the possibility I would shit or piss myself at least once, possibly twice, a day. We’d been struggling, I was tired of the endless evenings alone, wondering where he was. My sister had told me to confront him and I’d laughed.

    “I’m going camping,” I’d told him instead. He had pointed out I’d never camped a day in my life. First time for everything, I’d replied and although I hadn’t meant a rampant virus that kills and reanimates the dead, I’m still a bit smug that I was right. I’ll give him that the survival gear he told me was too heavy to walk with was in fact too heavy to walk with so I’d had to leave it at my campsite. I’ve brought the knickers.

    That first morning, it was the sirens that woke me up. Loud and like the old air raid sirens that would nearly give Nan flashbacks and a coronary when she heard them on the telly. When the text arrived, I’d stared at my phone, my right eye gummed together because hay-fever, my back stiff because the camping mattress deflated sometime in the night. News sites I managed to get on had seemed to think it was a virus before they stopped loading altogether. Outside the stupidly flimsy tent, everything seemed peaceful. I’d texted my reply and suddenly I felt very, very alone but then the helicopters started skirting the horizons, those big ones, a swarm of military bugs buzzing the forest tops, heading to the city and I nearly had a coronary myself. I’ll head back there too, I decided, although I’m not sure what for. To find him? Isn’t that what people should do in these situations?

    I saw my first walking corpse later that morning, a man shambling up the narrow road. I thought he was drunk at first, and judged him for it, because even though I’ve been known to down more than a few breakfast proseccos on an all-day hen do, I’ve never been that paralytic before the brunch arrived. I’d tried to stick close to the hedgerow on the other side of the lane because the smell of him alone wafting downwind was enough to make me heave, but when he saw me, he started veering towards me. I thought back to that self-defence I’d taken with Rachel a few years ago but all I could remember was something about using your shoelaces as a way to get out of hand restraints and this bloke could barely stand, never mind tie me up. I ran. He wasn’t fast but we were both trapped in the run of the narrow lane until I reached a gate and threw myself over it. I stared at him once I realised that he couldn’t climb after me. His eyes, the thirst, the hunger, the sheer stomach jolting stench of death coming off him meant that, once he’d lost interest and wandered on, I’d had to do quick change into one of those extra pairs of undies under the cud-chewing gaze of a herd of heifers. That’s when I first saw the rabbit.

    I climb a tree, badly, and perch on a thick branch, watching It. It has occurred to me that it might not be the same rabbit, that several have just popped up at times and I’ve taken notice and they’ve amalgamated in my head until they have taken on capital letters as a single, slightly sinister entity. But it/this one has perched itself on a rock, tucked its feet under itself and is side-eyeing me. I know it’s always side-eyeing me on account of their eyes actually being on the side of their head, but this evening it seems excessively judgy. I take out my last protein bar. “You’re not getting any.” I pick some leaves and throw them down in its general direction. “There. Just be grateful I’m not eating you.”

    Those scenes from a thousand films, shot of live rabbit cuts to shot of it skinned and spitted, dripping over a roaring fire. But I have no fucking clue how to kill a rabbit. Or skin it. Or make a fire to cook the bastard on for that matter. I’d eat my own hand before I’d eat raw, fur covered rabbit even if I could catch it. Rabbits are really fucking fast when they want to be. They eat their own young in times of stress and this could definitely be described as a stressful time so maybe the rabbits have worked out what’s going on and they’re just waiting for me to drop dead from fright so they can eat me. I only manage half the protein bar. The Rabbit turns its twitchy nose up at my offerings and we sit in mutual silence. I don’t take my eyes off it until I drift off…

    I’m trapped in the tree. Three of the bastards turned up as I was sleeping. I was hoping maybe at least they’d eat the fucking rabbit but they’re just staring at it. You’d think they’d prefer the furry, raw rabbit, as opposed to the spitted, roasted rabbit. Although, they’re confused by gates so it’s likely any fire building skills are a bit beyond them now, much like basic hygiene. I grab my backpack and climb down as quietly as I can, noting with a grimace that apparently, the emergency I was packing all those knickers for was a zombie uprising.

    They’re still fascinated by The Rabbit as I slip away across the field. I’d feel bad but honestly, if I can outrun them, it can probably hop quicker than they can shamble. Even I’d never be able to catch it and I don’t have the inconvenience of my limbs falling off if I go at anything faster than a brisk jog. Still, I look back hoping that it isn’t being torn horrifically to pieces and eaten raw. I’m not a monster, not yet. Maybe it hadn’t been malevolent. Maybe it was some sort of twitchy guardian. After all, it had sacrificed itself to save…

    The little fucker is still following me.

    I hike my bag, check my phone. Still no signal, then it ups and dies on me, unlikely to be resurrected. I throw it away, give The Rabbit a begrudging “Come on then”, and head towards the swathes of grey.

  • evisionarts on

    Melody September closed her eyes, leaning against the grimy window of her mother’s tiny room . Rivulets of clear water washed the other side of the pane clean, but  the space around her carried the scent of ammonia, dust and decay.

    She was used to the smell. No matter how many times the sheets were changed, the floors scrubbed to an oily sheen, rot seeped backed in. It was the only thing that grew here.

    Laughter seeped in from the hallway. Voices chattered, indecipherable words creeping through the door, banging into walls. Melody squeezed her eyes tighter,  humming snatches of a song half remembered from a long ago childhood. A wheezing rattle slashed the notes into ribbons, taking over the rhythm. She panted in tandem, fingers tapping in counterpoint against the glass.

    The rustle of sweaty sheets, mixed with strangled breaths collected in the air, building one on another, relentless sounds  pressing against her back, pushing without release, without remorse. Melody was caught between layers, like a drop of fluid smeared on a slide.

    Pressure built, and Melody’s heart lay flat against her ribs,  teeth piercing her lip. Her eyes flew open, sticky lids separating with a reluctant pull. She stared at her reflection, frowning at the marks of water and wind.

    A high, shrill whine shattered the moment as somewhere out in the darkness her mother smiled at her, young and certain, red hair like a beacon, shining through the rain. Melody blinked and everything went gray. She straighened, smoothing down her skirt with a practiced motion. Reaching for the cord, she closed the curtains, turning to face what she’d left behind.

  • Anarion on

    The bunny is soft in my hands. It presses its little body to my stomach, and I can feel the fast thump-thump of a frantic heart through my shirt. I pet it gently until it calms down.

    The clerk looks at me warily. It’s the third bunny this week. I’ve told him the story about how I learned they should be kept in company but I know that I’ll have to go to a different store next week. Again.

    You are lying on the sofa with your eyes closed when I return. The bunny squirms.

    You open your eyes. They are yellow and find the bunny immediately. The bunny screeches.

    I put it on the ground, where it cowers down petrified, and quickly leave the room, closing the door behind me. You’ve learned to wait until I have left the room.

    Afterwards you curl up in bed with me and I marvel at this insane love story of ours. How you must love me, to sacrifice this much.

    I wonder who’ll break first. Me, because I can’t bear to carry another squirming innocent creature to you. Or you, because the thirst just gets too much to bear.

    We are not there yet, because right now you are sleeping in my arms and next week I’m gonna go to a different pet shop and buy another bunny.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published