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No Lights… (Writing Prompts)

Writing Prompts

No Lights… (Writing Prompts)Thoughts skitter-scattered every which way with last week's prompt.

It's always a revelation, because sometimes writers ride a wave together, looking at the words and image and each mind turns toward something similar, whether it be space or sea or snow.

Maybe it depends on what's in the air you know? If so, this week I'll be curious to see if that same unnamable something is round about the place.

What do you think?

Piecing Together the Prompt Puzzle

So yeah, each author below took a different tack writing last week, each saw something the others didn't in those simple words — walk away, finish, shark — and the image of a rose (or was it?).

It made for an exciting genre flow that's for sure, from science fiction to mystery, contemporary supernatural to fantasy and more. Read on and see.

Jake never cared about the sea, but when his Seabirth-day had grown near, he’d imagined himself as various graceful and dangerous sea creatures. Had annoyed all his friends with his fantasies, making it even more embarrassing that none of them had come true. He sighed. His sister was hopefully gonna be a pink sea slug or a useless thing like a seahorse…


“Y’all came real quick when I called, and I truly appreciate it. Thank you.” She gave Starsky a quick kiss on the cheek, and another, more lingering one, on Hutch’s.
“Alice, you can walk away from this.” Hutch’s voice was soft, but there was conviction in his voice. Or maybe it was just optimism. He was hopeful for her. If only wishes were horses. Then beggars would ride…


There was no mistaking what it was – a huge mushroom cloud. Classic in its shape, all angry rolling fire and billowing smoke. Castle Bravo, recreated in 1990. Somebody had fucked up out there in the west and set off the big boom. Everyone out there was gone. Luna put her helmet back on and brought the visor down…


She reached out and plucked one frozen leaf from the fullest rose and carefully laid it out between the pages of her journal. The page was empty. She hadn’t dared to put down in ink what she was about to do. She knew the house would have kept her back… even now, she felt it reaching out for her.


All he had to do was finish it. Just, walk away. Leave this room and go . . . He had no idea where. The shark tunnel. That’s where he would go. He would go and stand in the quiet (there were no school tours today, thankfully) and reflect on why that was a good idea.

Every week we wonder what's in the air where you are, what these few words, the pretty picture, the colours fire up behind your eyes.

We always want to know…so…tell us?

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  • Atlin Merrick on

    I turn the lights off every morning, because I sleep with them on every night. It’s funny what people fear, you can’t decide can you? Some people are afraid of mirrors or peanut butter or school, so why can’t I be afraid of my own bones?

    The phobia came to me as a kid, I was eight and I broke my arm and…well you probably guessed it. Yeah, it was gruesome and ever since then I’ve been terrified of breaking something again, seeing too far inside myself again. So just in case I need to get up in the dark, just in case I want a glass of water at three a.m.…

    I leave my lights on every night, and turn them off every morning.

  • hardboiledbaby on

    London of an evening: a bright and lively place. Raucous at times, to be sure, and even bawdy, for not all of its nighttime attractions were intended for the more delicate sensibilities, or the more prudish ones. Still and all, it was a vibrant city, full of light and gaiety and colour.
    Then the War came, and everything changed.

    I walked as swiftly as I could, but it was well past dusk when I reached home. No light shone from the street lamps, of course, as the nightly blackouts were in effect. Throughout the city, families huddled in their homes with their curtains drawn tightly against the threat of enemy airships, against the fear of a fiery death raining down from above. The few people I passed in the street were barely visible in the dimness, grey solemn faces atop bundles of olive drab and khaki. All of London, it seemed, had been stripped of its vivacity, washed out, muted.

    Only the blood of the wounded was as crimson as ever.

    The flat was dark and empty as I turned the key and entered.

    “You’re late.”

    With a start, I realised that Holmes was there after all, sitting in the gloom.

    “I know. I’m sorry, I know it worries you.” I did not mention the numerous times he himself had been late, or had not returned to our rooms altogether, caught up in his own urgent work with Mycroft at Whitehall. It had always been so, his consideration of my personal safety more important than his own. I had railed against it in times past, but not now. Not tonight. I was bone-weary and sick at heart.

    As I closed the door behind me and divested myself of my coat and hat, Holmes lit the lamp. He was on the settee, clad in his favourite dressing gown, knees clasped to his chest. I went over to kiss him.

    “Have you been waiting for me for very long?”


    “Ah. Of course.” He had doubtless arrived mere minutes before I had. “Again, my apologies.”

    He gave me an assessing look, but as I did not care to be assessed just then, I turned to the sideboard.

    “Busier than usual?” he asked, his tone softening.

    “A rush of new patients arrived late this afternoon,” I said as I poured out two very generous brandies. “I couldn’t leave, we were short-handed.”

    “Barts is always short-handed, Watson. There will always be patients.”

    “Yes.” Drinks in hand, I sat next to him and offered him a glass. The liquor brought a welcome warmth as it coursed through my throat. I closed my eyes and swallowed, again and again. “More, always more.”

    “Watson.” I felt him pull the empty glass from my fingers and take my hand in his.

    I could hold out against his autocratic mien, it seems, but not his tender one.

    “It doesn’t end, Holmes. More wounded are brought to us every day. We do what we can, but—”

    “Oh, my dear fellow.” Holmes’ arms pulled me to him, and I found myself held in a fierce embrace, my head pressed firmly against his chest.

    “It’s so dark,” I whispered. “Tell me, do you see any light ahead, at all?”

    “We will have allies join us from across the ocean soon, I think. And there are other developments in the offing.” He kissed my forehead softly. “We—Mycroft and I—see glimmers. Do not lose hope.”

    I could hear his heart beating under my ear, steady as a metronome, and my own began to match its rhythm. This, more than anything else, was my wellspring of faith. With his courage and love, I had all I needed to carry on.

    This was what it truly meant to ‘take heart.’

    [A/N: This prompt set gave me the opportunity to revisit my beloved ACD-verse, so yay! This ficlet fits into my “A New Beginning” series (, after “The Bees Will Wait,” and will eventually be cross-posted there.]
  • Narrelle Harris on

    The ocean floor is made of bones. The earth’s great rocky bones of quartz, mainly, but others too. The calcium of shells and skeletons, the structures of coral and whales and clams and the great ichthyosaurs.
    And soon, too soon, my own, down on the deep ocean floor where light is a blue memory high, high above.
    Shapes loom back and forth across the distant glow. The salt water above me is my sky, filled with clouds of fish, the floating zeppelins of cetaceans, the arrows of hunting sharks.
    Above that deadly drowning sky swells a whole other ocean of air and clouds, traversed by shoals of birds and the hurtling winged ships of the firmament.
    I thought I would miss the blue sky more; that I would long for the stars. But the ocean is full of little living lights, worlds of them, twinkling bright, enticing curious fishlings, curious humans too, into danger.
    Leaning against an inky shadow made of stone, wedged underneath it in fact, is my own shell, my carapace, the interlinking hexagons of my undersea habitat. A seaquake had thrown it, slow-motion and roaring with sound for the squids to hear, into a whirlpool and onto the rock, and cracked it like a crab shell.
    The science that was my excuse to be here spilled out into the silky beach of ocean bed. I spilled too, in my submariner suit, in my helmet, my oxygen tank on my back. A hermit with my borrowed shell.
    The air runs low.
    My gaze lifts high. To the soft blue glow of that other world above.
    I sent my latest readings and reports. I sent a message to that other world.
    A message to the world from this alien world. From this heaven.
    I am sad only that I will not be here to be in love with everything I see.
    But I am at peace, because I will part of the place that I love. I will be part of the ocean floor: teeth and skull and the phalanges that held delicate instruments and the spine that curled into warm blankets as I slept blissful in the womb of the world.

  • The Honeyed Moon on

    Hi, I’m the girl who grew up with a skeleton in her closet. Well, in her parent’s closet anyway. And before we get started, it wasn’t something scandalous like an affair or a crazy relative sent off to live in an asylum.

    It was bones. Real, actual human bones. It hung from the hanger rod in my parents closet, suspended from a hook connected to the wire strung through his skull. Dusty was family.

    But not actual family, if you take my meaning.

    Dusty came to live, ahem, reside with my father when he started medical school. My grandfather bought him as a gift from some country an ocean away – India perhaps. That’s the story I was told at any rate.

    Growing up, Dusty was great. He was aces at scaring my friends: “Yeah, I promise you won’t get in trouble for being in there, my mom doesn’t care. Farther back, get between the dresses.” And then the screams would start, because my friend had found Dusty hanging there with his rib cage sticking out and his jaw hanging open because the spring on it was busted, and wouldn’t hold his mouth shut.

    Halloween was a grand affair at our house. Dusty would always be in charge of the candy bowl. He’d get seated in a chair in the open doorway with the bowl in the bony cradle of his lap. No lights save the one shining on him from stage left. Sometimes we’d splurge and get some dry ice to add to really ratchet up the creepy factor. We always kept a lot of candy every year.

    On one memorable occasion, he rode on the roof of my uncle’s car. We were in the process of moving house, and Uncle J had a station wagon. “Why was Dusty on the roof of the station wagon!?”, I hear you cry. Well, because that’s the only place where the sofa would fit. My dad and Uncle J thought it would be hysterical to drive down the freeway from Pasadena to Tustin with Dusty reclining on the sofa that was strapped on top of the car. Thank fuck this was in the age of rotary telephones, so no one called 911 on them on the freeway and got them busted by the CHP. (I’m sure there are traumatized adults out there who saw that as kids and had nightmares for weeks.)

    When I moved out, Dusty came with me. He lived, ahem, resided under my bed when I got married (the first time). That is until my dog stared to chew on Dusty’s left foot, and he was moved into the closet, right and proper. Dusty also freaked out husband number one, so his days were numbered from the start. (The husband, not Dusty)

    Dusty is currently living, ahem, residing in a cardboard wardrobe box in my garage. I feel bad for him down there in the constant darkness.

    I hope he’s not lonely.

  • Anarion on

    The wind was picking up, turning the gentle swoosh of the waves into an uncoordinated sloshing. She could see dark clouds banking up on the horizon and knew that equally dark masses were moving under the surface of the sea, rolling in the deep, waiting eagerly to angrily spill over the beach. The harder the wind blew, the further the waves came, almost as if they were reaching for the small house on the dunes, trying to claw it back into the sea.

    She hated storms, not because of the waves or the wind, but because you never knew what it would drag up from the depth, be it wreckage, dead fish, or dead people.

    She’d made a deal with the sea, a lifetime ago, but the ocean was a treacherous friend and she never knew how much she could trust that deal. Each storm seemed to be a reminder of what she had done and a warning to not break her promise.

    She stood at the window and looked out over the beach. In the rolling waves, head-high, crashing onto her land she could see dark shapes moving. She felt them watching her in turn, felt their hunger. They were always waiting, always hungry.

    She’d used that once.

    It had been a dark and stormy night too, Billy had been drinking and as always when he’d been drinking he’d started to get violent. Bloody and scared to her bones she’d stumbled down to the water’s edge, ready to end her own life to escape the terror of her marriage.

    She always wondered if it was the smell of blood or of desperation that called them.

    The creatures that had stepped out of the waves had looked like young women at first, but then she’d realised that their eyes were too big and they had entirely too many teeth. They had moved eerily as one as they’d leaned towards her, sniffing and hissing, and then turned their heads towards the house.

    Morgan had followed their gaze to her house and realised that it was not going to be her life that would end that day.

    To this day she does not know where she had got the strength to drag her unconscious husband to the beach.

    She did not regret what she had done. She had lived a wonderful long life, married again, a good man who never understood why she would not leave the remote place on the tiny island.

    She knew that her time was drawing near, not this storm, but maybe the next or the one after she’d have to go down to the shore and give herself over to them, the creatures in the sea, always waiting, always hungry.

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