And the reports are in!
I am an idiot!
I accidentally deleted three stories written for last week's prompt and you know what happens when you do stuff like that by mistake? You do not make that mistake again.
When I get 50 spam messages I now sit there with one eye twitching, making sure I don't delete NOT SPAM. I apologise L and T and a third person, please know it wasn't intentional and I hope you come back and write again.
Now! The other reports are in and those reports are these:
These prompts work! So some private comments have told me, with words like "They're a lovely thing to look forward to." "They are fun." People, I am told by the people who told me, are telling their friends about the writing prompts too.
And those people have started to write.
Be One of Them! Ship That Ship With the Worm With Your Writing!
I don't even know what I mean but I hope you do, I hope something's in your head already and you're all "stop talking I need to start writing" and I will, sure will, but first, here are some gems from last week's dirty deeds prompt. Then it's you, all you!
This won’t stand. It’s not what I’d bargained for, this angry heartbreak, weeks ago when I made my offering to the earth.
He won’t get away, not this time.
Dirty deeds imparted
Have no fear
I only farted
NARRATOR: They were not fine.
More Writing Prompts
The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death
Warthogs and All: Researching Prey, a South African Thriller
(Comments moderated to foil the spam bots.)
I am surrounded by darkness and pressure. I open my mouth to breathe and it doesn’t work. I panic until I realise that I don’t need to breathe. At least not the way I was used to. For some reason I seem to breathe through my skin, but I am not suffocating, so I’m gonna deal with that weirdness later.
I realise that I’m underground, encompassed by moist soil. Have I been buried alive? The last thing I remember is reading my comic in the garden.
I wiggle and that somehow works. I move. Wait. Where are my arms and legs?
Before I can panic about not having arms or legs though something else happens that seems perfectly valid to panic about: something slithers against me.
There really is no other word for it.
The thing is snake-like or worm-like and… HOLD THE FUCKING PHONE!
A worm? She turned me into a fucking worm?
I make fun of her for being a witch with a worm as a familiar and because of that she turns me into one?
The other worm is still wiggling next to me and my worm-body is somehow reacting to that and oh Lord is that thing sexing me up?
My little vengeful witch sister did not only turn me into a fucking worm, she turned me into a fucking worm!
AN: Atlin that worm shipping and that’s what my brain comes up with. I am so sorry!
I have never liked Thursdays, so of course this all happened on a Thursday.
It’s around noon and I’m having a sandwich in front of the TV. It’s the first time our country managed to qualify for the world championship and I’m not missing this for anything. The commercials seem to go on forever and just as they end, there is a knock at the front door. Of course there is, it’s Thursday after all. When I open the door, I find two men in grey suits outside. They smile a sleazy smile.
‘Oh, not again…’ I think.
“Good morning. We’d like to talk to Emily?”
Everybody always wants to talk to Emily, ever since she won that stupid worm charming contest. Why can’t she be into horses, like all the other girls, or comics, like I am? Who cares about freaking worms anyway?
I wave the men inside and tell them that they’ll find Emily in the garden with my mom and then I go back to my lunch.
Naturally, this being a Thursday, the peace doesn’t last long. I’ve just settled down again comfortably when Emily starts to scream. It’s not her usual ‘I’m not getting what I want’ wailing, it’s serious and full of terror. I drop the plate, stumble to my feet and sprint into the garden.
The tableau I run into is so weird that it takes my brain several seconds to understand. Mom is on the ground, one of the men has a weapon, the other has tentacles and is holding Emily who is still screaming like a banshee. Because my brain is busy processing all that, it forgets to tell my feet to stop running and I barrel right into tentacle guy.
The guy is hissing at me and Emily throws her arms around me with a clingy force that seems to indicate she secretly has tentacles too and then the other guy hits me with the weapon, and everything goes dark.
And this is how Emily and I ended up on a planet that used to get devastated by whale-sized earthworms, how my little sister became queen because she charmed the beasts into surrender and how I missed the second half of the first world championship we had a team in. Freaking Thursdays, man!
I heard tell there’s this thing called worm charming. Where people can bring the worms up to the earth’s surface from their subterranean homes. Some little girl holds the title. I don’t know if achievement is measured by number of speed but—
No, no, that’s not the point I want to make.
The point, that I want to make, is that I wish that kid would charm my worms. And by worms I mean brain cells. And by brain cells I mean…this.
*looks at this
Yes I’m looking at my hands on this keyboard and I’m telling you, ordinarily they move comically fast. Like they’ve got the major fidgets. 100 wpm fidget. I’m annoying as hell when I’m on a tear because I THUMP THE KEYS. I don’t mean to do so but I do so. Sorry if you’re next to me in the cafe.
No cafes for typing right now so you can’t enjoy the peace of today’s ‘oh, not again’ day, where ennui comes sailing its ship into my brain harbour (wait, what?) and when that happens nothing much happens.
So today’s a day for picking up digital knickknacks and dusting under them I guess. For admin. Tidying. And wondering about worms.
(P.S. There really is a thing called worm charming and this is only semi-autobiographical.)
Tala knows that Dev and Gaz think they’re a couple of comics. Funny enough to be YouTube famous, they think. Next stop, The Comedy Festival!
But that ship has sailed, or rather it has sunk, under the leaden weight of jokes about being drunk or high, making fun of people’s accents and ‘hey, those aliens we call women, what’s that all about, eh?’
The ‘what the hell even are women’ jokes are 60% about Tala. The obnoxious jokes about not understanding perfectly clear speaking people are 90% about her Filipino dad. The drunk and high jokes are 55% about what her two not-friends did to their friends (and behind their girlfriends’ backs) while drunk and high.
But what’s funny at a backyard barbecue with your wasted mates or at open mic night at midnight at the local pub won’t necessarily fly with a wider audience. Especially when the wider audience heard all that before, in about 1982, and react at best with ‘Oh, not again’.
Tala will let Dev and Gaz crash and burn all on their own. They’re not interested in her advice (which, you know, they asked for – she’s the only person they know involved in professional theatre; she manages a comedy venue in the city) because, they say, ‘You’re just not our audience”. They still want her to do them a favour, though. Give them their big break on the comedy stage.
Tala dated Dev in Year 11, Gaz the year after high school, and oh hell yes, she knows she’s not their audience. Those two self-obsessed, boozy pot-heads are under the impression that everyone is all good mates here, no hard feelings, she’s a sport and can take a joke, yeah?
Tala knows that Dev and Gaz will suffer the ignominious demise feared by all performers. They will die on stage, to the sound of metaphorical crickets, not a laugh to be had. From some quarters, the hostile glowering will make the silence furnace-hot. Dev and Gaz’s double act (misogyny-racism) will die and be buried and there won’t be enough good material in it to nourish the worms.
Tala knows this because she’s scheduled them for the 7:30 showcase slot at the High Five Bar, and loaded the room with reviewers.
She might justify it as being cruel to be kind, but she knows what it is.
It’s the last laugh.
The raven picked at the wood, only half interested in actually finding any worms. She tried to do what was expected of ravens – looking dark and mysterious, and slightly intimidating, but also hungry and benign, a little smart and a little stupid.
She was smaller than expected, at least that is what the many surprised glances told her, but if they thought she was a youngling, as they had called her, then they would soon be corrected. Comics, the lot of them. They had frequently said it was bad luck to bring a woman on board of a ship, and she had considered setting it on fire right away, but she knew they wouldn’t have made the connection and it would have been a shame, really. It was a lovely ship. Good wood. No worms. And soon hers.
“Oi, raven,” someone shouted and she picket at the wood again. “You’re back luck, ain’t you? On a ship? Shoo, off you go.”
I thought women were bad luck, now it’s ravens, too, she thought to herself and looked up at the man who wasn’t brave enough to go anywhere close to where her beak could reach. She decided that they had been sailing for long enough to risk a little magic. She cocked her head and looked him straight in the eye, readying her spell. But the man fainted on the spot before she had the chance to curse him.
Electricity tugged at her feathers and she felt a familiar sensation of unbridled joy rush through her.
She turned around and was unsurprised to see her sisters approaching the ship. They had formed a swarm, like starlings, darkening a patch of sky to form a skull. She found the shape slightly ridiculous and would have preferred a dragon or a bat, but she could feel everyone’s collective amusement weave itself into her thoughts. An unkindness of ravens, indeed. Oh, how she had missed her sisters.
She laughed, a human laugh, and shed her form right there on deck.
The men froze and stared at her as she shook the final traces of magic out of her hair. “Gentlemen, it’s time to abandon ship.”