Friday, April 22, 2011

Friday Morning Prompt

Good morning, everyone. Chris is away today and left me in charge....bwahahahahaha. I thought we might do something a bit different today since we had an open thread not too long ago. So I talked with Sarah for a bit yesterday and she came up with an exercise for us. Well, an exercise and a contest. I'm going to give you two writing prompts. Choose one of them. In the comments post up to 1,000 words. It doesn't have to be an entire story. What we're looking for is something to hook us enough that we want to keep reading. The only caveats are to keep it PG and to watch the language. Anything that steps over the line will be deleted (if you need to check on ick factor-ness, read Sarah's post yesterday on her blog.)

Prompt #1: Choose three words from the following list. Two of them must be central to the story.
  • motley
  • signal
  • estate
  • glitter
  • cut
Prompt #2: Use the following specifics to build your story. All three need to be included in the 1,000 words.
  • character -- apprentice
  • setting -- the beach
  • problem -- fecundity
You have your challenge. All entries must be posted by 0600 EST Sunday morning. You can enter twice -- once for each prompt.

Now, I guess you're wondering what the winner will get -- and the winner will be decided by a group of MGC authors. The winner can choose any two titles from Naked Reader Press. This includes Chris' upcoming novella Rise of the Phoenix.

Any questions? Post them in the comments. Now, have fun and see where your muse takes you.


MataPam said...

Submission #1--don't make me write this!

“I’ll bet on the Blondes over the Brunettes today.”

I glanced from Uncle Ty, Tyrone Reardon, and back at the party, as the groups coalesced. God, I hated Uncle Ty’s parties.

Being the niece—and virtual apprentice—of a great film maker can be interesting. And horrifying. This party on the beach below his Malibu home was the perfect example. Uncle Ty, as usual, had had the whole thing catered. Invited a couple hundred people, some carefully chosen, many simply random. And sat back to watch the fireworks.

The two Super Stars, one male and one female, had already looked each other over at the main bar. Their glares had clashed—only metaphorically, no special effects here. Then they’d retreated to opposite sides of the crowd and started drawing in supporters.

Apparently one of the drawbacks of having a mind of brilliant fecundity was being easily bored. Uncle Ty liked to sit in his favorite beach chair and take notes. Which young wannabe actors and actresses took which side. Who tried to play the peacemaker. Who stirred the pot.

This afternoon it was starting to look ugly, early on.

Synova said...

We're supposed to keep it PG *and* be specific about fecundity?


Amanda Green said...

Synova, but of course. That's why we're writers. It's a good exercise in imagination. Just think about how it can be warped and twisted and such...;-p ... and never quite cross the line

MataPam said...

Amanda, I think Fecundity scared everyone away.

I've managed to get all five words of the firstlist into a story, but none of them actually matter. I'll have to rewrite . . .

Amanda Green said...

Pam, then blame was her word. ;-p

Chris Large said...

The old warlock had always been a romantic fool, and now he was reaping the rewards of a carless, hedonistic youth. Over the years he’d waved his wand with thoughtless abandon at every young wench with a pair of generous hips and a saucy wink.

Now, in the twilight of his days, he surveyed the results of his indiscriminate fecundity from the balcony of his arcane tower. Could this group of gormless, twittering youngsters really represent his lasting legacy to the world? If so, it was a grim state of affairs indeed. How was he to choose is apprentice from this motley group of bastard outcasts and magical misfits?

The warlock’s tower was known far and wide as a dangerous place of mysterious and inexplicable happenings. The very sight of it, thrusting skyward like a dark, blunt finger, was enough to send a shiver of terror down the spine of even the most travel-harded adventurer. Its position, high upon the cliffs overlooking Half Moon Bay, afforded stunning views along the wild beaches of north coast, where strong offshore winds were today whipping up a hazy spray of saltwater and sand.

Perfect, the warlock thought with an inward smile. He wouldn’t have his challenge easily met. The eventual winner would need to withstand a week of heavy winds, freezing sea spray and cutting sands – he would see to that. But it would be the mistrust, the fear of a slashing knife in the dark from a devious sibling, which would rightly decide the matter.

He unclasped the warlock’s mantle and held it aloft. A stray ray of sunlight broke through the heavy cloud and struck the artefact, sending a shower of glittering, light down upon the crowd below. In the distance, thunder rumbled across a darkening sky.

“My children,” the warlock began in strong voice, belying his advanced years. “You know why you are here. I require a willing young one to empty my bedpan, and to become my apprentice.”

The crowd tittered. There must have been fifty of them. The warlock allowed himself a tiny satisfied grin. He had indeed been a prodigious lover in his day.

“One of you will assume the responsibility of managing the daily affairs of my magical tower. One of you become the most powerful warlock in the land. One of you will inherit this mantle, which will contains much of my power.”

“How?” cried one young woman. Her dark, swarthy features a mirror of his own. Golden, magical light glinted dangerously in her hard, black eyes.

Yes, she could be the one. “All I ask is that you wait. It is not so hard a thing to do. Wait down on the beach. An object shall wash ashore, this I have foreseen. It is a mere trinket, but the one who brings me this trinket will receive the full measure of my training and knowledge, and of course, my mantle of wizardry.”

“And how will we know if we have found the trinket of which you speak, oh mighty warlock?” the young woman asked. There was something about the girl. He would need to keep an eye on her.

“I will know when you have it. Look for a signal from the tower,” the warlock said. “Like this.” He drew his wand and a fountain of sliver fire erupted into the grey sky above.

His children gazed at the glittering spray in wonder. “Now go,” he said. “I will speak again only to the one who brings me the trinket.”

The hopefuls turned toward the trail leading along the cliff, eyeing one another with suspicion.

All except one young woman with troubled, shadowy features, who slipped silently from the path and into the scrubby trees. She found a suitable place to hide in the thickets and settled in for the afternoon.

Let the others search for the trinket, she thought, absently fingering the hilt of her dagger. Sabrine had a less complicated goal. If the mantle was the source of the old fool’s power, she would take it from his cold corpse. Slitting the throat of an old man she judged to be the work of a novice assassin. Sabrine would take what was rightfully hers and avenge her poor mother’s honour in a single stroke.

Chris Large said...

Can't spend my whole Easter writing so I've included it all in one.

Happy Easter!

Stephen Simmons said...

Not long ago, in that Galaxy parked just down the block, Freddie took Anna out on their very first date. He took her to the Hollywood Bowl, then headed up to his family’s estate the hills. He knew a picturesque spot near a fork in the road, where he intended to park and coax her into the back seat to spoon. But things didn’t go quite according to plan. A shooting star knifed down from the heavens right in front of them, obliterating an inconveniently-placed convenience store.

The glittering star went right on shooting after it landed. Well, not the star itself, exactly. Rather it was the dozens of creatures emerging from it. The screenwriters down in the city would hardly have approved, since the creatures weren’t men, or little, or even green. And Freddie was fairly sure that the alterations their plasma rifles were making to the strip mall across the street would never be endorsed by the county building inspector. Each eye-searing bolt cut through steel and concrete as easily as a cheerleader cutting in front of a chess-geek in the lunch line, and he suspected their moving car was likely to be a tempting target.

He abandoned any thought of reaching the estate. Instead he turned down the next side street and whipped every one of the horses Ford had herded in under the Galaxy’s hood, determined to put as much geography between Anna and that overly-enthusiastic urban renewal crew as possible. He dug out his cell phone and handed it to her. “Call my dad. He and Doctor Flanders are gonna have to let Mom out of the asylum for this.”

The NBC news helicopter was overhead in minutes, determined to scoop the other local channels with first-on-the-scene footage of the fallen star. Sadly, the eager newshounds inside had failed to remember that the early worm sometimes gets the bird, and it's often the second mouse who eats the bit of cheese. The CBS team, being a minute or so slower off the mark than their rivals, were perfectly positioned to provide exclusive footage of the NBC helicopter being swatted from the sky. The viewers were denied the promised footage of the fallen star, however. The CBS pilot, being no fool, recognized their rival’s demise as a symbol of what lay ahead. He promptly shed altitude and changed course to avoid coming anywhere near a direct line-of-sight to the source of those massive glowing bolts of energy.

Stephen Simmons said...

The wand glimmered in a most satisfying manner. And the not-quite-blue glowing tracks it left in the air when Jed waved it quickly were possibly the most beautiful things he had ever seen. Imagine him, Jedediah Jefferson, an apprentice wizard!

Well, ok, not exactly. But junior understudy to the wizard’s second assistant was like being an apprentice, wasn’t it? Sure, he only had the miniature wand. And sure, all he could use it for was to sift simple spell-component materials, to make certain that each element was absolutely pure. But there was no denying that he was performing magic -- after a fashion.

But there was one thing still bothering him. Despite the clear evidence of his new status, the girls were all still resolutely ignoring him. If anything, they might even be ignoring him more aggressively than they had before. The Beltaine fertility ritual was in full swing. The beach was liberally littered with discarded clothing, while the fields marching on the river’s banks emanated a cacophony of couples actively playing their parts in the pre-planting fertility celebration. And the young ladies still on the beach outnumbered virile young men by a considerable margin. Yet he wandered among them surrounded by a palpable bubble of solitude, despite the glowing not-quite-blue patterns he traced in the sky around himself.

At last he found the averted gazes unbearable, and stalked up to a girl he knew. He knew that a male approaching a female was a horrible breach of the accepted etiquette for this celebration, but he could stand no more.

“Klarnea, I must know. Why are you and all of the other girls avoiding me? Am I not a suitable mate? I have status now! I am the wizard’s new apprentice!”

“Oh, no. Poor Jed, do you really not understand?”

“Understand what?”

“Your new status is the problem.”

“Problem? But, but-” Jed stammered. “But I am the wiz-”

“No, Jed. No. You must understand. You aren’t the wizard’s apprentice. You’re Taboo, the Element Boy.”

Synova said...

"How was he to choose is apprentice from this motley group of bastard outcasts and magical misfits?"

For some reason I read "magical infants." The picture in my head didn't include anyone over six. It was a funny picture. ;-)

Mike said...

Off The Beaches!
By Mike Barker

It was Tuesday afternoon when the dolphins announced their plan to take over the world.

On the beach at Ocean City, Maryland, after a long hot Memorial Day weekend, the sight of a dolphin dancing in the slow, rolling waves while it gave a speech in that squeaking, high-pitched voice just made people laugh and applaud. College students sleeping off the weekend in the sunshine rolled over when someone poked them, and ignored it. No one really paid attention to what it was saying, they just looked around for the cameras and asked each other what it was advertising.

That scene was repeated, with local variations, at beaches around the world. No one listened, particularly, although the worldwide coincidence made the news. As did the Australian crew who had their boat turned into kindling when they tried to catch one of the dolphins. Even the smartphone videos only caught bits and pieces of that first speech, and no one noticed that everywhere in the world it was the same speech in whatever the local language was .

Only a few local news shows covered the rescues of the dolphins in seaside aquariums and research centers. Maybe the whales bashing through walls, giant squid unlocking doors, and other manuevers should have gotten more attention, but everyone thought it was just accidental that the dolphins were freed in the damage. There was a lot more attention to the fact that the keepers, scientists, and visitors almost all disappeared.

Wednesday was when the red tide rolled onto the beaches and filled the bays. Satellite photos showed that around the world the borders between the land and the sea had suddenly acquired a carpet of fish, seaweed, and algae growing rapidly, choking the water. It started almost 17 kilometers wide, and grew wider and thicker every time someone checked. The fecundity and rapidity of the growth stunned scientists, who couldn't explain why this wild growth was concentrated in such a narrow boundary, and why it was worldwide.

Thursday they took over the ports and stopped all shipping. Ships at dock tilted and jumped as fish slammed into them underwater, then lifted as shoals of fish pushed them up and onto docks. Ships at sea suddenly shuddered to a halt as fish and seaweed blocked their propellors and ports, then giant krakken climbed onto their decks. Radio messages, video, all started... and suddenly stopped.

Friday was when the dolphins talked again. This time, they got attention, standing on their tails in clear circles in the red tide, squeaking. That was when they called for apprentices. Volunteers to swim with them and learn what their orders were. Traitors to humanity is what the news, and everyone else, called us.

I'm an Apprentice. This is my story.

to be continued?

Chris Large said...


Here are enough typos and assorted errors in there without anyone reading in any more!

Chris Large said...

And the above reply only proves my point!

Anonymous said...

Can anybody play?

I was just to the big estate as we called it. It was my Lord uncle’s holdings and he had much more land than my parents at that time. I left my mother’s side and my beautiful land to serve my Lady Aunt at the huge and ill-favored castle with my beloved woods too far away to enjoy. I would have missed home much more if my Aunt hadn’t been as like my mother as that.

I was still wearing my clothes from my father’s house for things were upended by my cousin’s upcoming nuptials and my Aunt said she would not have me play the fool in the first page’s castoffs. He was as wide as I was but nigh on a foot taller for he had more years than I. I was not in my proper colors until the night after I first spied the evil.

My Lord Uncle had many retainers and I would have been hard pressed to hold my own among so many even if the entire countryside had not converged on the castle for the wedding. I was kept so busy running here and there that I had not time to miss my mother. My days were full and my nights came early for I was the one my Aunt said she trusted most to care for the young cousins while she must be at board with her ladies. My aunt made so much of me and how much I reminded her of her sister, I reckon they were convinced also and they minded me well. So it was that I was never in the hall in the evening;I tell you this for it explains how it could be that I was the one to foil the wickedness, child though I was.

It was the third day of my life at the castle and just before the guests would be called to sup. I was running an errand to the cook from my Lady and must cut through the crowd in the hall. I was yet small and able to worm through where it looked there was no passage and so I came upon the jester unawares. He was sitting in the shadows so that only his legs showed the motley. The rest of him was dark until he turned his eye my way in the torchlight and I caught the glitter of evil in his glance, alert as though he awaited some signal. He felt my stare and turned and made as if to rise but I showed my heels and blindly ducked back into the press of bodies and so made my escape.


Mike said...

By The Light of The Green Gem
by Mike Barker

Look, don't misunderstand me. I love being an estate assessor. It's safe, pays well, and it's steady work. For an orphan who grew up the hard way, it's good work. But sometimes it's just boring.

When I saw the motley assortment of stuff that Henry J. Kervin the Third had piled up in what they called his study, I groaned. I knew this kind of collection. Usually it was just random stuff, nothing worthwhile, but it took forever to go through all the little odds and ends, and figuring out what some of it was?

I still remembered the hard brown lump that took me better than a week to positively identify as fossilized dinosaur brains. I mean, who keeps junk like that in their house, right? And the museum folks weren't even interested in it, because it had been handled too much.

Still, I was being paid to assess this, and I would. I started in, putting numbered stickers on each piece, writing it down, estimating the value. It was almost soothing, just look, stick, write, and go on.

Then I found the green gem. Well, it would have been a green gem, if it wasn't as big as my head. And in two pieces. I mean, it almost glittered. But there was something wrong with those dimensions. I know gems and gem-cutting, and... someone cut this one wrong. I mean, you have to get the cuts right to reflect the light, and this? Well, I'd guess that even under a bright light, there would be dark spots. And while I've seen broken gems, I've never seen one sliced in half, as if someone took an incredibly sharp sword and sliced it into two pieces.

The two pieces were in a box, with a divider down the middle. I picked them up, one in my right hand, one in my left, and looked at the slice. It was flat, as if polished. Then I turned the two pieces and tried to slide them together. There was resistance, almost like when you try to push two magnets together and you've got the poles the wrong way. I held them apart again, and realized I was holding one higher than the other. So I lowered it, and slid them together again.

They kind of leaped in my hands. The cut ends slid together. The green gem lay in my hands, the slice gone as if it had never been there. And in the depths of the gem, a light started to glow. It pulsed, as if some kind of signal had started as soon as the gem was in one piece.

Then I fell into the face of the gem. And through it.

to be continued...

While this uses all five words, none of them is particularly central to the story. Ah, well. Maybe next time...